Glick Picks

Every week (or so) I pick a plant worthy of attention and send out a new Glick Pick. You can sign up for my weekly Glick Picks and get your weekly plant fix via e-mail! Browse at your leisure through my archive of previous Picks below. — Barry

Actaea pachypoda

Although you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand why the common name for Actaea pachypodais “Dolls Eye’s”,  you may wonder about it’s other moniker,  “Baneberry”.  This cautionary label speaks to the poisonous nature of the fruits.  Don’t let that scare you away from growing one of the coolest woodland plants you’ll ever find and who knows how many berries you would have to eat to get a belly ache or die anyway.

I’m not sure where the genus name Actaea comes from,  but pachypoda means “thick foot” referring to the stem that carries the fruits.

Here’s a plant that will give bring you great joy 75% of the year and 100 % of your growing season.  All you need is full to part shade,  you know,  that filtered sunlight kinda stuff,  and average soil.

In the early Spring,   the 12″ to 24″ dissected foliage is topped with airy,  creamy white fragrant flowers http://www.sunfarm.com/images/lg/acteapachy podafl-l.jpg. These flowers are soon pollinated,   and the berry building process begins.  Slowly over the Spring and Summer they turn from a small yellowish – green to a brilliant white as they grow in size.  The stem that the berries are supported on is called a pedicel and it turns a deep crimson red color.  Each berry is tipped with a black dot in the center.

Propagation is by division and a mature plant can yield several in just a few years.  Seed propagation is also an option,  but you must have patience as it takes several years to produce a flowering size plant.  I tried a simple experiment many years ago to settle a bet that the seeds were infertile.  It seems that most  people used to toss their seed pots if they didn’t germinate in a year.  There were six plants of Actaea pachypoda  growing in Booth Hollow,  just a stone’s throw from my farm.  I gathered the berries in late September and macerated the seeds out of the pulp in a colander under running water.  Believe it or not,  I came up with 288 clean seeds. This is quite a coincidence because it was my intention to sow them in a 288 cell flat. Anyway,  I sowed them and placed the flat outside in the woods and waited. The following Spring,  as other seeds were popping up everywhere around this flat, the Actaea flat had nothing!!!.  I left the seed flat in place and the following Spring, 19 months later,  there was 100% germination.  You can save yourself a year by placing the seeds in moist vermiculite and putting them in the fridge for about 6 weeks,  room temperature for six weeks and then back in the fridge for six weeks, then sow them.  While this may sound like a pain in the butt,  it’s really effortless and a great timesaver. Life is so short and there are so many plants to grow.

Closely related is another favorite of mine,  Actaea rubra, http://www.sunfarm.com/images/lg/actearubra -l.jpg . Actaea rubra is a species  native to the Northern US that has similar characteristics with the exception of deep red berries in Autumn.

Just the facts M’am:
Kingdom – 
Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom  Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision – Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division – Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class – Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass – Magnoliidae
Order – Ranunculales
Family – Ranunculaceae
Genus – Actaea
Species – pachypoda
Common name – genus – “Baneberry”
Common name – species – “Dolls Eyes” or “White Baneberry”
Synonyms – Actaea alba
Native of – Midwestern to Eastern US, see
USDA Hardiness Zone – zone 5, maybe 4?
Light preference – Full shade to part sun
Soil preference – Average
Moisture preference – Average to moist
Bloom time – Mid Spring
Bloom color – Creamy white and fragrant
Foliage – Medium to light green, dissected
Spread – clumps to about 12″
Height – 12″ – 24″
Landscape uses – Middle shade border or wild woodland garden
Medicinal uses – Poisonous

 

Ajuga "Chocolate Chip"

Another Ajuga-OH NO!!  But wait,  even though there will probably never be an Ajuga that comes along that would make me say “here’s a plant that you can’t live without”,  this adorable little plant makes me smile.  Its narrow bronzy foliage glistens in the sun showing off its 6″-10″ tall,  deep blue flower spikes.

Let’s face it kids,  Ajuga is not a rare,  collectors plant,  but a very useful,  utilitarian plant that can fill in a large area rapidly without becoming a nuisance,  ahhhh,  a groundcover,  duh!.

This is an exceptionally fast growing selection that flowers on and off during the summer and grows equally well in sun or shade.  I’ve never heard of an Ajuga that wasn’t fully hardy everywhere.

If you’re getting more than one copy of this weekly mailing, or would like to unsubscribe, or sign up a friend, let me know.

Allium carinatum ssp pulchellum

Also known as Allium carinatum ssp pulchellum, I’ve enjoyed this Summer flowering bulb for many years and have finally built sufficient stocks to share with you. It’s graceful habit, deep pink color and long bloom time make it a very useful plant for front to mid border during an “in between time” when there is not much else coloring your perennial beds and borders.

Reaching a height of 18″ – 26″, Allium pulchellum will gently self sow itself into nice little drift, and seedlings reach flowering size in just about a year or two.

By the way, the specific epithets, pulchellus, pulchella, pulchellum, mean “somewhat beautiful” or “pretty” according to Chuck Griffith’s monumental work on the subject of specific epithets

I’ve isolated a pure white cultivar and hope to make it available in the next year or so. In the meantime, I’ve plenty of the deep pink species in 2″ tree band pots ready to fly out the door in full flower.

Alstromeria psittacina

WOW!!! A hardy Alstroemeria??? Yes a hardy Alstroemeria!!! A native of Northern Brazil, Alstroemeria psittacina is a GREAT cut flower growing here in my zone 5 garden for over 10 years now.

The luscious, supple foliage makes a great groundcover, and in mid Summer, the reddish green flowers rise up 12″-24″ over the foliage. Because the flowers shoot out at different angles, it is difficult to photograph, so please keep this in mind as you view the enclosed photo. Propagation is very easy from division, and being a species, it comes true from seed.

I am getting ready to trial out another species that I’ve been growing from seed and understand to be hardy also to zone 5, Alstroemeria aurantica. It has a really different, deep, yellowish-orange color with dark black veining, stay tuned!

Linnaeus named this genus in honor of his buddy and pupil, Baron Clas Alstroemer (1736-1794), a Swedish naturalist.

Alstroemeria has long been a cut flower on the tables of many a fine restaurant. Most of the hybrid Alstroemerias that are sold in this country are imported by air freight from South America.

Dr. Mark Bridgen at the University of Connecticut has been doing some real serious breeding work in the genus Alstroemeria, rather than clog up your mailbox with a bunch of attachments, I have set up a link for Mark to get on his soapbox and tell you all about his work. There are 4 jpegs and the text file is his story in his own words.http://www.sunfarm.com/images/Alstroemeria His introductions are not only bold and beautiful, but hardy. Marks email address is bridgen@uconn.edu

Just the facts M’am:
Kingdom – 
Plantae
Phylum – Anthophytae
Class – Monocotolydonae
Subclass – Liliidae
Order – Liliales
Family – Alstroemeriaceae
Genus – Alstroemeria
Species – psittacina
Common name – “Spider Lily”
Synonyms – Alstroemeria pulchella
Native of – Brazil
USDA Hardiness Zone – zone 5, maybe 4?
Light preference – Full sun to full shade
Soil preference – Average
Moisture preference – Average to moist
Bloom time – Mid Summer
Bloom color – White
Foliage – Medium to light green
Spread – slow to medium groundcover
Height – 12″ – 24″
Landscape uses – Mid border
Medicinal uses – None that I have found

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Need a back issue?
A complete set of back issues of “Glick Pick of the Week” is available for the asking. If you would like me to send them, or if you would like to, first see the list, send me an email. Also, if you’re getting more than one copy of this weekly mailing, or would like to subscribe a friend, or for some crazy reason, to unsubscribe, let me know.
Actaea pachypoda

Although you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand why the common name for Actaea pachypodais “Dolls Eye’s”,  you may wonder about it’s other moniker,  “Baneberry”.  This cautionary label speaks to the poisonous nature of the fruits.  Don’t let that scare you away from growing one of the coolest woodland plants you’ll ever find and who knows how many berries you would have to eat to get a belly ache or die anyway.

I’m not sure where the genus name Actaea comes from,  but pachypoda means “thick foot” referring to the stem that carries the fruits.

Here’s a plant that will give bring you great joy 75% of the year and 100 % of your growing season.  All you need is full to part shade,  you know,  that filtered sunlight kinda stuff,  and average soil.

In the early Spring,   the 12″ to 24″ dissected foliage is topped with airy,  creamy white fragrant flowers http://www.sunfarm.com/images/lg/acteapachy podafl-l.jpg. These flowers are soon pollinated,   and the berry building process begins.  Slowly over the Spring and Summer they turn from a small yellowish – green to a brilliant white as they grow in size.  The stem that the berries are supported on is called a pedicel and it turns a deep crimson red color.  Each berry is tipped with a black dot in the center.

Propagation is by division and a mature plant can yield several in just a few years.  Seed propagation is also an option,  but you must have patience as it takes several years to produce a flowering size plant.  I tried a simple experiment many years ago to settle a bet that the seeds were infertile.  It seems that most  people used to toss their seed pots if they didn’t germinate in a year.  There were six plants of Actaea pachypoda  growing in Booth Hollow,  just a stone’s throw from my farm.  I gathered the berries in late September and macerated the seeds out of the pulp in a colander under running water.  Believe it or not,  I came up with 288 clean seeds. This is quite a coincidence because it was my intention to sow them in a 288 cell flat. Anyway,  I sowed them and placed the flat outside in the woods and waited. The following Spring,  as other seeds were popping up everywhere around this flat, the Actaea flat had nothing!!!.  I left the seed flat in place and the following Spring, 19 months later,  there was 100% germination.  You can save yourself a year by placing the seeds in moist vermiculite and putting them in the fridge for about 6 weeks,  room temperature for six weeks and then back in the fridge for six weeks, then sow them.  While this may sound like a pain in the butt,  it’s really effortless and a great timesaver. Life is so short and there are so many plants to grow.

Closely related is another favorite of mine,  Actaea rubra, http://www.sunfarm.com/images/lg/actearubra -l.jpg . Actaea rubra is a species  native to the Northern US that has similar characteristics with the exception of deep red berries in Autumn.

Just the facts M’am:
Kingdom – 
Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom  Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision – Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division – Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class – Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass – Magnoliidae
Order – Ranunculales
Family – Ranunculaceae
Genus – Actaea
Species – pachypoda
Common name – genus – “Baneberry”
Common name – species – “Dolls Eyes” or “White Baneberry”
Synonyms – Actaea alba
Native of – Midwestern to Eastern US, see
USDA Hardiness Zone – zone 5, maybe 4?
Light preference – Full shade to part sun
Soil preference – Average
Moisture preference – Average to moist
Bloom time – Mid Spring
Bloom color – Creamy white and fragrant
Foliage – Medium to light green, dissected
Spread – clumps to about 12″
Height – 12″ – 24″
Landscape uses – Middle shade border or wild woodland garden
Medicinal uses – Poisonous

 

Ajuga 'Chocolate Chip'

Another Ajuga-OH NO!!  But wait,  even though there will probably never be an Ajuga that comes along that would make me say “here’s a plant that you can’t live without”,  this adorable little plant makes me smile.  Its narrow bronzy foliage glistens in the sun showing off its 6″-10″ tall,  deep blue flower spikes.

Let’s face it kids,  Ajuga is not a rare,  collectors plant,  but a very useful,  utilitarian plant that can fill in a large area rapidly without becoming a nuisance,  ahhhh,  a groundcover,  duh!.

This is an exceptionally fast growing selection that flowers on and off during the summer and grows equally well in sun or shade.  I’ve never heard of an Ajuga that wasn’t fully hardy everywhere.

If you’re getting more than one copy of this weekly mailing, or would like to unsubscribe, or sign up a friend, let me know.

Allium carinatum ssp pulchellum

Also known as Allium carinatum ssp pulchellum, I’ve enjoyed this Summer flowering bulb for many years and have finally built sufficient stocks to share with you. It’s graceful habit, deep pink color and long bloom time make it a very useful plant for front to mid border during an “in between time” when there is not much else coloring your perennial beds and borders.

Reaching a height of 18″ – 26″, Allium pulchellum will gently self sow itself into nice little drift, and seedlings reach flowering size in just about a year or two.

By the way, the specific epithets, pulchellus, pulchella, pulchellum, mean “somewhat beautiful” or “pretty” according to Chuck Griffith’s monumental work on the subject of specific epithets

I’ve isolated a pure white cultivar and hope to make it available in the next year or so. In the meantime, I’ve plenty of the deep pink species in 2″ tree band pots ready to fly out the door in full flower.

Alstromeria psittacina

WOW!!! A hardy Alstroemeria??? Yes a hardy Alstroemeria!!! A native of Northern Brazil, Alstroemeria psittacina is a GREAT cut flower growing here in my zone 5 garden for over 10 years now.

The luscious, supple foliage makes a great groundcover, and in mid Summer, the reddish green flowers rise up 12″-24″ over the foliage. Because the flowers shoot out at different angles, it is difficult to photograph, so please keep this in mind as you view the enclosed photo. Propagation is very easy from division, and being a species, it comes true from seed.

I am getting ready to trial out another species that I’ve been growing from seed and understand to be hardy also to zone 5, Alstroemeria aurantica. It has a really different, deep, yellowish-orange color with dark black veining, stay tuned!

Linnaeus named this genus in honor of his buddy and pupil, Baron Clas Alstroemer (1736-1794), a Swedish naturalist.

Alstroemeria has long been a cut flower on the tables of many a fine restaurant. Most of the hybrid Alstroemerias that are sold in this country are imported by air freight from South America.

Dr. Mark Bridgen at the University of Connecticut has been doing some real serious breeding work in the genus Alstroemeria, rather than clog up your mailbox with a bunch of attachments, I have set up a link for Mark to get on his soapbox and tell you all about his work. There are 4 jpegs and the text file is his story in his own words.http://www.sunfarm.com/images/Alstroemeria His introductions are not only bold and beautiful, but hardy. Marks email address is bridgen@uconn.edu

Just the facts M’am:
Kingdom – 
Plantae
Phylum – Anthophytae
Class – Monocotolydonae
Subclass – Liliidae
Order – Liliales
Family – Alstroemeriaceae
Genus – Alstroemeria
Species – psittacina
Common name – “Spider Lily”
Synonyms – Alstroemeria pulchella
Native of – Brazil
USDA Hardiness Zone – zone 5, maybe 4?
Light preference – Full sun to full shade
Soil preference – Average
Moisture preference – Average to moist
Bloom time – Mid Summer
Bloom color – White
Foliage – Medium to light green
Spread – slow to medium groundcover
Height – 12″ – 24″
Landscape uses – Mid border
Medicinal uses – None that I have found

Thalictrum lucidum

Tall, dark and handsome. Now there’s a perfect description for Thalictrum lucidum. With an imposing height that’s equal to that of an average human being, here’s a plant that you can’t live without. Even if it was void of those soft, puffy, fluffy, creamy yellow, fragrant flowers, it would still merit a place in the back of your sunny border. But flower it does and with a vengeance. In mid Summer this plant is festooned with airy puffs of soft, creamy yellow flowers and fragrant, did I mention that the flowers are fragrant? They smell like, of all things, roses!!

The flowers are reminiscent of Thalictrum flavum glaucum, but this species sports divided, dark green, fernlike foliage instead of the broader, glaucous foliage of Thalictrum flavum glaucum. Also, it can stand up on its own unlike the lovely, but drunken Thalictrum flavum glaucum that always needs support. None the less, Thalictrum flavum glaucum is also a good plant to grow even though it needs a bit of extra attention. You can see this plant close up at http://www.em.ca/garden/per_thalic_flav_gla uc1.html

Thalictrum lucidum is an easy plant to grow and definitely qualifies for my “idiot proof” designation. There seems to be no disease or insect problems and it will set copious amounts of easy to germinate seeds and grow into a lovely colony in no time.

The genus Thalictrum can be found in my favorite plant family, Ranunculaceae, home to favorites like Peonies, Clematis and oh yeh, Hellebores. Thalictrum species range in size from the dwarf, 3″-6″ Thalictrum minus to the 6′ tall Thalictrum lucidum and can be found on almost every continent.

There is an awesome Thalictrum page at http://www.tuininformatie.net/tk/info/vp25a .htm In fact, the fellow that created the pages has included a resource of over 50 more Thalictrum links. You’ll be a Thalictrum Authority in no time with the click of your mouse.

Just the facts M’am:
Kingdom – Plantae
Division – Magnoliophyta
Class – Magnoliopsida
Subclass – Magnoliidae
Order – Ranunculales
Family – Ranunculaceae
Genus – Thalictrum
Species – lucidum
Common name – genus – “Meadow Rue”
Common name – species – “Shining Meadow Rue”
Synonyms – ???????????
Native of – Eurasia
USDA Hardiness Zone – zone 5, maybe 4?
Light preference – Full sun to full shade
Soil preference – Average
Moisture preference – Average to moist
Bloom time – Mid Summer
Bloom color – Soft, creamy yellow
Foliage – Medium to dark green
Spread – Clumps to about 12″
Height – 36″-60″
Landscape uses – Back of a sunny to part shade border
Medicinal uses – none that I have discovered

Tolmiea menziesii "Taffs Gold"

Even if this plants namesake wasn’t a dear friend of mine, I would be it’s proponent.

A native to the West Coast of the US, this Saxifragaceae family member is a hardy perennial that has the unique habit of forming new plants in the axils of its leaves. This phenomenon is known as the ability to form gammaceous plantlets.

It’s a close relative to Tellima and Heuchera.

It was discovered by Stephen Taffler, from the window of a speeding New York City taxicab as he rushed to JFK airport, no doubt behind schedule as usual, to catch a flight back home to England. As the vehicle rounded a corner “Taff” commanded the driver to STOP, the driver probably though that chain smoking “Taff” was having a heart attack and stopped immediately leaving a half inch of rubber on the ground.

What “Taff” had spotted was some golden variegation on a plant sitting on the shelf of a flower plant street vendor a hundred yards away, what an eye for detecting even the slightest variegation this man has.

“Taff” bought the plant and smuggled it back to the UK in his coat pocket.

It’s been popular in the UK for many years now and is just starting to be seen here.

Most books list the hardiness as zone 6, but with a little mulch, you can grow it in zone 5. And with all of the new plants that it produces, it’s very easy to bring a piece inside for the Winter in zones colder than 5. In fact many people grow it as a house plant.

Veronicastrum sibiricum

Now that the cold war has finally ended and relations are warming up between the US and the former Soviet Union, I think it’s a good time to start telling you about some of the fantastic plants native to that region of the world.

Possibly, my very favorite could be Veronicastrum sibiricum. OK, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a sucker for any plant with the specific epithet sibiricum. Living on a frozen 3000 foot mountaintop in zone 5 you’re always on the lookout for plants from colder areas.

So…I’ve been growing the native counterpart Veronicastrum virginica http://www.sunfarm.com/images/med/veronicas trumvirginicumflr-m.jpg for years and love it dearly. Even when it’s not in flower with its pure white spikes of soft blooms, the foliage is magnificent, just check out: http://www.sunfarm.com/images/med/veronicas trumvirginicumfol-m.jpg . The way the olive green leaves whorl around the stems is incomparable. No insect chomps, fungal or any other problems for that matter, in fact the foliage is so perfect that you almost believe it to be fake silk.

In any event, back to the Russian side of the family, the foliage is even more striking! Leaves are much bigger and coarser with deeper venations and the flowers, oh the flowers, with loveliest color of pinkish-lavenderish-lilacish that you’ve ever been unable to describe.

And easy to propagate and share with your friends like you wouldn’t believe. Sets copious amounts of tiny, but easy to germinate seeds and cuttings practically root in a glass of water, well maybe that’s a bit overstated. I use Wood’s Liquid Rooting Hormone at the 10% rate, but have had equal success with Rootone powder.

All in all, this is a great plant for the middle to the back of your perennial border. Height has been 36″-48″ in my garden, and the several week long bloom period starts in early to mid Summer. Full sun to part shade is OK, and I am sure that the window of tolerance for light and soil conditions is extremely wide.

The genus Veronicastrum was separated from the genus Veronica. You wanna get technical and understand why?? I put together this little chart to help you understand the workings of a Taxonomists mind.

(Table to come here)

The technical terms can be referenced in books like Hortus Third or online in one of several glossaries of Botanical Latin. There is a great dictionary of specific epithets at: http://www.winternet.com/~chuckg/dictionary .html This is a searchable database put together as a labor of love by Chuck Griffith. You can spend hours there and really learn a lot about Botanical Latin.

Viola Pedata

There’s not very many plants that can take the hot dry baking sun that Viola pedata can take. 33 of our 50 states make a home for Viola pedata. And why do we call this charming little plant the “Birdsfoot Violet”? Well, just take a look at the dark green, dissected foliage and you will see that each leaf resembles a birds foot.
Viola pedata is one of the most variable flowers in the world, just ask Martha Russell, better yet, go to the really cool gallery of photos that she put up on “Mr. Onion”, Mark McDonough’s, very cool web site, Plant Buzz. More about Mark in the future.

There’s a really cool, bi-color form of Viola pedata, and you can see an image of it at the NARGS, (North American Rock Garden Society), website, where it was named Plant of the Month in May of 2001. If you are not a NARGS member, you should be. In addition to the beautifully illustrated quarterly journals and great study weekends, you are eligible for the seed exchange that offers over 6000 different species for 50 cents a pack. You can find out more about NARGS at the homepage, but navigation of the site is quicker from the site map

Propagation of Viola pedata is easy from seed. People talk about root cuttings, but I haven’t had a chance to try it, have you?

Just the facts M’am:
Kingdom – Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom – Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision – Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division – Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class – Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass – Dilleniidae
Order – Violales
Family – Violaceae
Genus – Viola
Species – pedata
Common name – genus – Violets
Common name – species – “Birdsfoot Violet”
Synonyms – none that I could find
Native of – see http://plants.usda.gov/cgi_bin/topics.cgi
USDA Hardiness Zone – zone 5, maybe 4?
Light preference – Full sun to light shade
Soil preference – Average
Moisture preference – Dry, very well drained
Bloom time – Early Summer
Bloom color – Blue
Foliage – Medium to dark green, somewhat glossy, dissected
Spread – 3″- 6″
Height – 3″ – 6″
Landscape uses – Rock Garden or front of a sunny well drained border
Medicinal uses – none that I have found

Xanthorhiza simplicissima

I had to travel across the Atlantic Ocean to appreciate a plant that was literally growing in my back yard. Xanthorhiza simplicissima is the only woody member of my favorite plant family, Ranunculaceae.

The flowers it produces in early Spring are interesting, http://www.biology.duke.edu/dnhs/pics/Xanthosim.jpg but inconsequential. What really knocks me out is the Autumn color, an indescribable shade of purple that persists for weeks. I was in the UK visiting my friends, John and Galen Carter at Rowden Gardens, Brentor near Tavistock England. It was a crisp, clear November day and the Autumn foliage of the surrounding forest was magnificent. As we rounded a curve around one of the many water beds in the garden, I was struck like a ton of bricks by the most fantastic shrub growing against a fence in the back of the garden. I asked John what it was and he laughed, “why you should know that shrub, it came from you” And so it did. What John had done was to give our native “Yellow Root” a bit more sun, a good feeding and it grew to about 4′ tall and produced a fall foliage display that was unparalleled.

In the wild, it grows happily on stream banks in sandy soil under a canopy of dappled sunlight. In my garden, I’ve underplanted it in a grove of tall Maples along a meandering path.

Xanthorhiza simplicissima is easy to propagate from the many underground runners it produces. You’ll understand why the common name is “Yellow Root” when you dig it up to divide it. In fact a yellow dye was made from the roots by Native Americans.

Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom – Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom – Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision – Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division – Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class – Magnoliopsida
Subclass – Magnoliidae
Order – Ranunculales
Family – Ranunculaceae
Genus – Xanthorhiza
Species – simplicissima
Common name – “Yellow Root”
Synonyms – Xanthorhiza apiifolia
Native range – http://www.csdl.tamu.edu/FLORA/cgi/b98_map?genus=Xanthorhiza&species=simplicissima
USDA Hardiness Zone – at least 5, possibly 4 or 3
Light preference – Open bright shade to full shade
Soil fertility preference – Average to rich
Soil pH preference – neutral to acidic
Soil moisture preference – Moist to average
Bloom time – Early Spring
Bloom color – Bronze
Fragrance – None
Foliage – Medium green, dissected
Autumn Foliage – An indescribable shade of purple
Spread – 12″ – 24″
Height – 8″ – 36″
Deer palatability – Seems deerproof, at least my deer don’t seem interested
Landscape uses – Front to mid shade border or wild garden
Related species – None
Medicinal uses – http://plants.gardenbed.com/73/7284_med.asp

Zizia aurea

Here’s a plant that tickles your lips when you say the name.  ZZZZZZZZZZZizia aurea.  While most  Umbellifers,  or plants in what was the Umbelliferae family,  now known as the Apiaceae family,   are either biennial or monocarpic,  here’s a long lived perennial that’s native to the Eastern US. One of  three species resident in these mountains,   I grow Zizia aurea in several different areas in my garden. In the wild,  it grows in rich,  moist woods,  open meadows and on riverbanks.  In the garden, it grows and flowers equally well in full sun or full shade.

The dark green,  glossy,  dissected foliage is a perfect foil for the long lasting,  brilliant yellow umbels of flowers that persist for weeks in late Spring to early Summer.  Plants are 12″-24″ tall and form a nice tight clump about 12″ in diameter.

Propagation is easy by division or by seed,  which is set in abundance.

Since it’s a zone 5 native,  I’d venture to say that it’s probably hardy to zone 4 and as far as heat tolerance goes,  who knows.  Hortus Third says that it occurs from New Brunswick Canada to Florida and West to Texas.  Wow that’s more than half the country!  I’d suggest that the further South you are,  the more shade it would prefer,  along with a bit of water and mulch in dry times which goes a long way.

By the way, the common name is “Golden Alexanders”,  and of the other two species, Zizia aptera,  and Zizia trifoliata, I grow Zizia aptera which has large round leaves.  I can’t recall what the flowers are like on this species,  but I remember that they weren’t as showy as Zizia aurea.

Does the phrase “Idiot Proof” come to mind?

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