Monday, November 2, 2015

Flower mystery

Click any photo to "embiggen"

There's an amazing flowering plant just around the corner from my house. I see it every morning when I walk the dog. It's growing at my neighbor's gate, flanking the opening.

When the buds first appeared, in late September, they were intriguingly weird looking. Pale, green-white ovoids, like blind fish or spermatazoa, on curving tail-like stems, growing in tiers around the tall stems.

As the buds open, they become small florets, five petals swept backwards, almost as cyclamen flowers' petals, with long delicate stamens springing from the centers, like wires. The flowers are about the size of a penny. The petals open pale cream, like soft kidskin, and age a yellower cream. The stamens are tinged with pinky-red, with dark, purply anthers.

The flowering lasts a full month, and now, as the flowers are spent, they leave behind green bracts which flush a bright red, making this plant give double-duty in the beauty department:

I asked my neighbor what it was called, and he couldn't remember the botanical name. He said the person who gave him the seeds had two common names for it. By the time I got home, I couldn't remember the first name, but the other was "rocket-flower." Unfortunately, "rocket-flower"is as common as dirt, so when I search, I get a million hits, mostly for liatris.

I cannot identify this plant and need your help!

Here are two photos of its growth habit. You can see how tall it gets.

It is probably a herbaceous perennial or biennial, I think. It grows in tall spikes, the tallest spikes soar way overhead up to 12 feet or higher. The stems are thick and strong, though not woody. Large, green lanceolate leaves alternate around the stem.

What do you say, Southern gardeners? Can anyone tell me the name of this plant?


Anonymous said...

We've got these down here in Odessa, G, although evidently there are hundreds of Clerodendrum to choose from. :-)

Glennis said...

HI, Anonymous. Is there a name people call them by?

David Duff said...

You may need to struggle into your nuclear-bio-chem suit before you open this link from the staunchly conservative Spectator magazine this week but as it concerns N'Orleans I thought you might be interested in an outsider's view.