I found our Wildflower Wednesday star in the Susan's bed a few years ago. It looked like Conoclinium coelestinum/Blue Mistflower, but, the flowers were less numerous and pink. There were a few other differences, too. Blue Mistflower is a sturdy plant with upright reddish stems, while this little beauty could be best described as airy and loose limbed.
I rather liked what I saw.
I'm never surprised to discover a new native plant in this neighborhood or even in my garden. Plants frequently appear, either having gone unnoticed or because conditions were favorable for growth of seeds in the soil seed bank. This was a woodland not so very long ago and there must be many wildflower seeds laying dormant in the soil.
Wildflowers and other Central Basin natives grew with happy abandon in the forested woodland where this garden now stands. Sixty three years ago a neighborhood was carved from the woodland and a house was built. Homeowners came and went, while the wildflowers grew quietly on the woodland edge. Thirty three years ago, my husband I bought this garden and that brand new gardener fell head over heals in love with the Goldenrods and blue clouds of ex-asters that were covered with bees and butterflies. The woodland remnants in my backyard and side yards were where I discovered the beautiful wildflowers that have become my gardening soulmates: False Soloman's Seal, Spring Beauties, Rue Anemone, Trout-lily, False Garlic, Blue-eyed Grass, Wild Sweet William, Sweet Betsy, Goldenrods, Blue Mistflower, Frostweed and those many white and blue ex-asters.
Long time readers might remember that I built this garden around those native beauties, so, finding Fleischmannia incarnata to add to the mix was delightful.
|photo by Richard and Teresa Ware |
The leaves are opposite, widely spaced at nodes, and triangular shaped; they remind me of Nepeta. They're softer to the touch than leaves of Blue Mistflower, which is another way to tell them apart.
It has an airy, loose limbed attractiveness and is a good partner for Eupatorium serotinum, both are found in moist shade. It's not unusual to find it sprawling against neighboring plants in a lax fashion. Training it on a trellis might help show off it's pretty flower faces to the world.
Foraging bees are frequent visitors. Skippers hover around it, doing their lovely mating dances. It doesn't appear to be a host plant for butterflies, but, if anyone reading this knows otherwise, please let me know.
Botanical name: Fleischmannia incarnata
Common Name: pink slender thoroughwort, pink thoroughwort, pink boneset
Native Range: In the USA: AL, AR, AZ, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MO, MS, NC, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV
Size: 12 in. - 6 ft. | 30 cm - 1.8 m, low branching growth habit, sprawling.
Bloom Time: Aug–Dec. depending upon where you garden
Bloom Description:Inflorescence - Flat-topped panicles of heads at branch tips and flower heads with disc florets and no ray florets.
Best Plant Description: In appearance it is reminiscent of a tall, gangly ageratum with pale pinkish florets and catnip-like leaves.
Sun Light: Shade, Partial to Full Shade
Water: Prefers moist soil
National Wetland Indicator Status: FACU+ FAC
Maintenance: Low, as long as it is not allowed to dry out.
Propagation Methods: From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall or direct sow after last frost.
Seed Collecting: Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds.
Comments:Woodlands, thickets, moist soil, roads, ditches, stream banks, bottomlands, swamps, depressions, cedar glades and if your lucky in your garden.
Wildlife value: This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds (seeds). Doesn't appear to be a butterfly host plant, but, it is an excellent nectar source.
Flowers are fragrant
Commercially available: One Beaufort, SC nursery had it for sale.
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 and, it doesn't matter if we all share the same plants. It's all about celebrating wildflowers.
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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.