Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Wildflower Wednesday: Blephilia subnuda


 Cumberland Pagoda plant is our May Wildflower Wednesday star and not only is it lovely to look at, it's a favorite of the bumbles that live in the garden. If only it were more available to we native plant aficionados.


B subnuda with Christmas fern, Hydrangea arborescens, Heuchera and Phacelia

Blephilia, the pagoda plant or wood mint, is a genus of three species of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae. They are all herbaceous plants native to eastern North America. Blephilia are most often found in open areas, glades, and mesic forests. All species are considered threatened or endangered in some states. The genus includes only perennial species that spread by both seeds and through stem division. Small white to purple-lavender flowers occur in inflorescences that cluster in the upper leaf axils, often in several circular layers (hence the common name pagoda-plant). Leaves are generally lanceolate to ovate and vary in shades of green. Leaves are either petiolate or subsessile (depending on the species). Like many other members of the subtribe Menthinae, all parts of Blephilia are highly aromatic when crushed and have smells similar to menthol and spearmint.  (source)

mint family characteristics

 A really rare Blephilia

 Blephelia subnuda/Smooth Woodmint/Cumberland Pagoda-plant/Cumberland Woodmint has a rare presence in the southeast. Plants have been found in rocky limestone forests within the Cumberland Plateau region of northeastern Alabama and Tennessee. Richard W Simmers and Robert Kral collected specimens in 1983 and described and compared them to B ciliata and B hirsuta in an article in Rhodora the Journal of the New England Botanical Club (1992).

UNC Herbarium

Other than the article mentioned above there is little written about B subnuda. I am not sure why, unless its similarity to the others two Blephilias makes it uninteresting to botanists. Another question I have and wish I could find an answer to is this one: "Why is this plant so rare, when others in its genera aren't?" We know that it's vulnerable to damage from logging, but, whether it's naturally rare or has been affected by habitat loss remains an unknown. So someone, please research this!

 Downy woodmint not so rare

Downy woodmint is found in most eastern US states

Blepilia ciliata/Downy woodmint (photo above) was here at Clay and Limestone long before there was a garden. It's a more intense purple then B subnuda, which is more white with purple spots. B subnuda's  leaves are smooth and lack hairs. Both attract bumbles in my garden and I am glad to have them. Both like the neutral clay soil over limestone and are doing well in the semi-shade.

Blephilia subnuda at Clay and Limestone

Terri Barnes of Growild Native Plant Nursery introduced me to smooth woodmint (another common name) and I've been pleased with how well it does in my garden. I got two quart sized containers and planted them along the stone path to the front garden. They're growing happily beneath Hydrangea arborecens and Hydrangea quercifolia. They're cavorting with Christmas ferns, Heuchera, Trillium, CarexScutellaria, Phacelia and wild ginger.


I want more!





  










  


A good looking plant

B subnuda is a beautiful flowering plant with upright unbranched reddish stems. The toothed foliage is lance shaped/ oblong and opposite along the stems. Leaves and stems are faintly aromatic when crushed and hairless. In late spring and summer, dense whorls of clustered flowers encircle the stems for about a month. The tiny individual flowers are two lipped and white to pinkish with purple spots.

 

Terri Barne's private garden

This needs to be in more gardens! Contact Terri Barnes of Growild Native Plant Nursery to see when it might be available. Trust me, you will love it and so will your pollinators.

xoxogail



 

The Particulars 

Botanical name: Blephilia subnuda

Family: Lamiaceae

Common Names: Smooth Woodmint, Cumberland Pagoda-plant, Cumberland Woodmint 

Range: Rocky limestone forests within the Cumberland Plateau region of northeastern Alabama and Tennessee.

Duration: Perennial 

Habit: Herb 

Size: To about 2 feet in height.

Leaf Arrangement: Opposite 

Leaf: Simple/Compound:,Perianth Absent  

Flower: In late spring and summer, dense whorls of clustered flowers encircle the stems for about a month. The tiny individual flowers are two lipped and white with purple spots.

Fruit Color: none

Bloom Color: White, pinkish, purple

 Bloom Time: May, June (late spring)

Bloom Notes: Flowers white with purple spots on the lower lip.

Maintenance: Easy peasy once established. Good drainage is helpful.

Comments: On the endangered plant list in TN

Not browsed by dear or other herbivores (so far)  

Value:  This is a good choice for a pollinator garden, wildlife garden, prairie garden, rock gardens, Butterfly garden, water wise gardens, or, in a meadow. If you're patient it will eventually make a lovely ground cover. 


Source



COMPANION  PLANTS:  You can pair it with other plants that enjoy similar cultural requirements, like Aster laevis, Phlox pilosa, Coreopsis tripteris, Solidago nemoralis, Bouteloua curtipendula, Sorghastrum nutans or Schizachyrium scoparium. In semi-shade it's planted with Christmas ferns, Heuchera, Trillium, CarexScutellaria, Phacelia and wild ginger.

 

UNC Herbarium

 

Welcome to Clay and Limestone and Wildflower Wednesday.  This day is about sharing wildflowers and other native plants no matter where one gardens~the UK, tropical Florida, Europe, Australia, Africa, South America, India or the coldest reaches of Canada. It doesn't matter if we sometimes share the same plants. How they grow and thrive in your garden is what matters most.

 

Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.

 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Wildflower Wednesday: Entireleaf Western Daisy

Some plants are charming and Entireleaf Western Daisy is one of them. 

It captured my heart many years ago when I found it by chance flowering its head off in the way back freedom lawn. What I mean by chance, is that we went out of town for several weeks and came home to see the entire lawn in bloom. Salvia lyrata, Sedges, Downy Woodmint and the cutest little Daisy were having a blooming party.

 

 I was enchanted. It did take me a few weeks to figure out the Daisy was Astranthium integrifolium, a winter annual native to the Central Basin, Cumberland Plateau and the Ohio/Tennessee Valley. I garden in the Central Basin, which is also known as the Nashville Basin. It's a hot, muggy place to garden and this little Daisy seems to love it.

 


 

We mowed around it all summer and it bloomed its head off. Small pollinators visited and it eventually set seed and dropped them during the hot summer months. The seeds germinated over the fall and winter and bloomed the following April.

Some years Western Daisy is more prolific than others. In a good year there will be flowers in every garden bed and dancing with the Lyreleaf sage and Sedges in the freedom lawn. Bloom this year has been so-so. I blame the summer and fall drought for fewer seeds germinating. But, I have a plan, first I will transplant some of the blooming plants and latter, once it has been pollinated, I will collect seed and scatter it where I want to see more blooms.

Some I collected in a container

Here's what works for me: I place a soil filled container near the blooming flowers to catch falling seeds. I leave the container in the garden until the following late winter or early spring and then plant those seedlings when the ground is no longer frozen.


rosette in late winter

Winter annuals are hardy and can tolerate cold weather and snow. I transplant on a warm late winter day making sure to give them a nice drink of water. Repeat yearly to increase your collection. Btw, this works well with lots of annual and biennial wildflowers. I use this technique with Blue-eyed Mary and Purple Phacelia.

note the drooping flower head before it opens

Eastern Western Daisy is a typical Asteraceae/composite. The blossom is made up of two types of flowers - ray florets and disc florets. The ray florets (6 to 25 of them) are usually lavender or white. The disc florets are yellow, with 5 lobes. It's a small plant measuring between 4 and up to 18 inches high and the flower heads are about an inch wide. The flowers are solitary at the end of each stem. My granddaughter loves to pick them.

 Astranthium integrifolium is also known as Entireleaf Western Daisy, Western Daisy, Eastern Western Daisy and Wild Daisy. What ever its name this is a charmer that ought to be in your central south garden.

 Although, most articles referencing Wild Daisy aren't filled with much information, they all more or less say the same thing- "It's a good gardening plant for attracting butterflies, since it's an early blooming nectar source.” That's high praise in my eyes. 
Western Daisy pairs beautifully with many garden plants. The pairing with Tradescantia 'Kate' and Salvia 'Black and Blue' in the above photos was completely serendipitous. I'll try to plan pretty pairings for next year with this fall's seeds and next winter's seedlings!
I love the hint of lavender on the petals
 

The only problem with some winter annuals is that they they aren't generally available at nurseries. I suspect that seed collection is a big issue.When it comes to Astranthium integrifolium/Entireleaf Western Daisy, unless you know me or are able to shop at GroWild you may be plumb out of luck trying to find it. That's a darn shame. Too many delightful wildflowers are unavailable.


I've been pretty lucky to find wildflowers on my property. Our house is 67 years old and this property used to be a forest before the post war building boom turned this wildflower rich land into a suburbs. The developers bulldozed their way through the trees making roads and kindly left some of the woodland undeveloped. Our acre is not without it's issues. It took a long time for me to accept the limitations and gifts of the shallow, clay soil that is as dry as concrete most summers and wet and sticky all winter. (here for more of the story).  Every wildflower I discover is celebrated and cherished. That's how I feel about my Eastern Western Daisies. 

xxoogail


The Particulars

Botanical name: Astranthium integrifolium

Family -Asteraceae

Common names: Entireleaf western daisy; Western Daisy; Eastern western Daisy

Range: It is native to the east-central part of the United States primarily the Cumberland Plateau and Ohio/Tennessee Valley. It is found in the States of Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, and Georgia, with isolated populations in Mississippi and West Virginia.

Source

Zones: 5 to 8

Habit - Annual, fibrous rooted

Stems -Usually one; erect to decumbent-ascending. 4 to 18 inches tall depending upon growing conditions.

Bloom time: It blooms in mid-spring to early summer.

Flower: Flower heads are usually borne one at a time, with white or bluish ray florets and yellow disc florets. The flower is about an inch wide.

Habitat: Rocky (limestone) banks and ridges, alluvial fields, stream banks and terraces, open juniper woods, glades, roadsides

Faunal Associations: The flowers are visited by butterflies, small bees, gnats, flies, pollen eating beetles.

Comments: Astranthium integrifolium is a perfect plant for freedom lawns. In the garden it mixes well with Salvia lyrata, Ruellia humilis, Spiderwort and Salvia. I like to transplant seeling/rosettes into containers to mix with other wildflowers. "Astranthium is a small genus of about a dozen species primarily of Mexico, but three species have ranges within the United States - Astranthium integrifolium, Astranthium ciliatum (Comanche Western Daisy), and Astranthium robustum (which is endemic to Texas, and is known as the Texas Western Daisy.)" source


Thank you for stopping by and welcome to Clay and Limestone's Wildflower Wednesday celebration. WW is about sharing and celebrating wildflowers from all over this great big, beautiful world. Join us on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Remember, it doesn't matter if they are in bloom or not; and, it doesn't matter if we all share the same plants. It's all about celebrating wildflowers. Please leave a comment when you add your url to Mr Linky.


 

Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.



Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Wildflower Wednesday: Corydalis flavula

Our Wildflower Wednesday star is a delicate and inconspicuous beauty that blooms early and disappears completely by mid-summer. It is easily overlooked in the decaying leaves of the forested woodland where it thrives. I think you'll be as excited as I was to discover it growing so near my own garden.

It's been on my want list for years. There's now a small clump in my garden thanks to the generosity of my son who found some growing on the slope in his way back backyard. The leaves look a lot like Dutchman's Breeches and it wasn't until the yellow blooms opened that we were sure of its id.  

Yellow fumewort has been described as a small sprawling annual. Indeed, it was sprawling all over his yard on a slope with years of decaying leaves and fabulous drainage. It appears to be happiest in floodplains, woodlands, ridges and ravines, but, I've seen it on a dusty trail in a local natural area.   Some sites list its habitat as being sparse with no tree canopy and slightly calcereous soils. My take away from the various described growing conditions is that it needs good drainage and good fortune in it's reproduction process.




I've planted it among the biennial Purple Phacelia. I can't wait to see the royal purple and golden yellow blooming together. If it's happy and survives to set seed early springs in this garden will be even more glorious.

Yellow fumewort is a winter annual. Winter annuals germinate in autumn or winter, live through the winter, then bloom in winter or spring.  The plants grow and bloom during the cool season when most other plants are dormant or other annuals are in seed form waiting for warmer weather to germinate. Winter annuals die after flowering and setting seed. The seeds germinate in the autumn or winter when the soil temperature is cool. They typically grow low to the ground and protected from the coldest nights by snow or decaying leaves. They take advantage of warm periods during winter to grow. Western Daisy, Blue-eyed Mary, chickweed, and winter cress are winter annuals that grow in my garden.

the flowers do resemble other Dicentras

The flowers that begin blooming in late winter or early spring in my middle Tennessee garden grow in terminal racemes/clusters at the ends of the stalks. The petals converge into a tube like appearance with a spur; the supporting stem is attached near the center of the flower rather than at the end. Bees who visit need a long tongue and have to work to open the tubed flower. Nectar robbers are known to visit and there is some evidence that they can aid in pollination. 

 


After blooming and successful pollination long reddish decorative seed pods develop. The seeds ripen and fall on the soil to germinate and grow into a small flowerless plant in the fall. The overwintering leaves look very similar to a Dicentra, with a glaucous/pale grey or bluish-green and finely divided leaflets. It blooms when temperatures warm in the spring. 

"It is self-compatible and occasionally cleistogamous, but likely depends on insects (especially bees) for pollination, out-crossing, and the maintenance of genetic heterogeneity (Mitchell 1983).  Its seeds, produced in May-June, show unusual dormancy characteristics, germinating in the fall and producing seedlings that overwinter (Baskin and Baskin 1994, Farnsworth unpublished data).  These seeds have conspicuous, fatty elaiosomes attractive to ants that transport the propagules to nutrient-rich nest sites favorable for germination (Beattie etal. 1979). (source)

glaucous, finely dived leaves that resemble Dutchman's Breeches


The survival of a delicate species like Corydalis flavula is dependent upon several environmental factors

  • availability of pollinators (bees, some flies and the falcate orange-tip butterfly/Anthocaris midea
  • sufficient rain,
  • soil nutrients, 
  • insect seed dispersers (ants),
  • habitat security, and
  • a special dormancy period of hot summer days followed by cool autumn nights

 



Source

The Particulars

Botanical name: Corydalis flavula

Family -Fumariaceae and Papaveracea - The Fumitory family is a subfamily of the Papaveracea family.

Common names: short-spurred corydalis, yellow corydalis, fume-root, fumewort, yellow fumewort, yellow fumitory, yellow harlequin

Range: USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , MI , MO , MS , NC , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV Canada: ON

Zones: 5 to 8

Habit - Annual, occasionally biennial, taprooted forb. Has characteristics of an early "spring ephemeral" throughout its range, reaching reproductive maturity in March through April in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia (Wofford 1989).

Stems - Loosely ascending, to 30 cm, branched and sometimes multiple, from a spreading base, glabrous, often reddish. 

Bloom time: It blooms in mid-spring to early summer.

Flower: Inflorescence - Racemes, to 8cm long, mostly not extending past the foliage, those with open flowers 6-12-flowered racemes, those with cleistogamous flowers 1-5-flowered clusters. Flower stalks (except sometimes in cleistogamous flowers) 9-22 mm long, ascending at flowering, often pendent at fruiting, subtended by leaf like bracts, these to 1 cm long, 7 mm broad, acute.

Habitat - Bottomland forests, ravines, bases of bluffs, streambanks, shaded roadsides, railroads, rich woodland soil. Hoping it can survive my rather dry in the summer garden.

Faunal Associations: The flowers are pollinated by bumblebees, flies and one butterfly. The oily appendages of the seeds (elaisomes) attract ants (particularly Pheidole bicarinata), which undoubtedly help to disperse the seeds. The poisonous foliage is avoided by mammalian herbivores.

Comments: This plant contains a variety of alkaloids and other chemicals that render them toxic. They may have been used medicinally in the past, but do not ingest them.

Companions: Spring ephemerals and less aggressive perennials that won't crowd them out.

Thank you for stopping by and welcome to Clay and Limestone's Wildflower Wednesday celebration. WW is about sharing and celebrating wildflowers from all over this great big, beautiful world. Join us on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Remember, it doesn't matter if they are in bloom or not; and, it doesn't matter if we all share the same plants. It's all about celebrating wildflowers. Please leave a comment when you add your url to Mr Linky.



 








Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.