Plants of the Week: March 28

Plants of the Week: March 28

Trachystemon orientalis JTB[3]Trachystemon orientalis

Sometimes called early borage, Trachystemon orientalis can be found growing on the corner of the bed immediately out the side door of the Wister Center.

True to its common name, T. orientalis is both a member of the Borage family Boraginaceae, and flowers well before the majority of its family. Closely related to the lungwort (Pulmonaria sp.) it features the familiar pink and blue color combination, and the scorpioid cyme flowering habit seen in Pulmonaria species.

The stamens are fused around the pistil in a beak-like structure, which shades from white at the center to purple at the tip. The petals are strap-like and recurved, from white to blue, curling around themselves at the apices. The genus designation comes from the Greek roots trachys and stemon, meaning rough and stamen, respectively. This refers to the hair-like trichomes found on the stamens, stems, and leaf undersides. The species name means east in Latin, referring to the native range in Eastern Europe. photo credit: J Bickel

Sarcococca confusa JTB [3]

Sarcococca confusa

A healthy stand of this can be found in the southwestern corner of the Lang Garden of Fragrance in the Clothier Courtyard. Sarcococca, a member of the boxwood family, Buxaceae, is an evergreen, low-growing shrub often used as a groundcover. The small, inconspicuous, white flowers of S. confusa appear along the undersides of the stems in late winter and are nearly without corolla. The four stamens that emerge from the calyx are white and slightly flattened, giving the appearance of petals.

These eventually mature to spherical, glossy, black berries, for which the genus acquires its name. Sarcococca comes from the Greek sarx and kokkos meaning “Fleshy Berry.” The flowers are said to smell like honey, giving it the common name: sweet box. photo credit: J Bickel

 Viburnum x bodnantense 'Charles Lamont' JTB [2]

Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Charles Lamont’

This peculiar specimen can be found in the middle of the Isabelle Cosby Courtyard near Kohlberg Hall. Though not a particularly attractive physical specimen, I chose to highlight this plant because of its strong fragrance and attractive flowers. The flowers are pink and white, tubular, and borne in clusters that emit a delightful strong, sweet and spicy aroma.

This hybrid is the result of a cross of Viburnum farreri and Viburnum grandiflorum, allegedly first accomplished by Charles Lamont of the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens, for whom the cultivar is named. The species name honors the Bodnant garden in Tal-y-Cafn, North Wales. photo credit: J Bickel

John Bickel
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