Salvia lyrata aka Lyre-leaved Sage

I found these growing in a boggy area along a pathway.

Perennial herb, wild throughout eastern and midwestern US, zones 5-10

Cold, wet winters will kill it, it prefers drier areas

Blooming late March ( spring – summer depending on location )

Considered invasive in some locations. Many home owners mow it after it flowers.

Considered a medicinal plant, Gray’s Pharmacopoeia (1848) lists its uses for warts and cancer but studies haven’t found any medicinal uses. aka Cancer Weed

Well liked by bees and butterflies

Easy to grow from seed

Species, Variety, Cultivar

Groups

  • Angiosperms: Flowering plants
  • Gymnosperms: Conifers, cycads, allies
  • Pteridophytes: Ferns
  • Bryophytes: Mosses and liverworts
  • Families:

  • Currently 642 families
  • Genus:

  • Currently 17,020
  • Group of related plants
  • Origin, type, group
  • Species:

  • Genus name + specific feature that makes it different than other plants in Genus
  • Breeds true from seeds or cloning
  • The largest group in which two parents can create fertile offspring
  • Variety:

  • Usually occurs in nature and have same characteristics of parents
  • Seeds from varieties usually have same characteristics
  • Always written in lower case
  • Hybrid:

  • Crosses between species or different parentage in the species
  • Seeds rarely breed true
  • Cultivar:

  • Cultivated variety, created by humans. Some are mutations, some are hybrids of two plants.
  • Seeds don’t usually breed true, propagation by cloning is needed ( from cuttings, tissue culture )
  • First letter of a cultivar is capitalized
  • Heirloom:

  • Varieties found in nature for at least 50 years
  • The Plant List on going list of all known plant species

    Seeds: Species, F1, F2, F3

    P1 Species seeds are from two parents of the same species or self pollination
    — breed true

    F1 seeds are hybrids created from two unrelated parents ( children )
    — hardy crosses, usually vigorous, healthy plants, children usually look like the children

    F2 are self pollinated F1s or pollinated by other F1s ( grandchildren )
    — might look like parent, might look like mailman, most diverse, greatest diversity in this cross

    F3 are self pollinated F2s or by other F2s ( great grandchildren )
    — who knows? usually selected to strengthen an F1 trait

    F4, F5, F6 can also be found

    The ‘F’ is short for filia

    Species seeds are the most expensive, each F? gets cheaper the farther you travel down the family tree

    S seeds are self fertilized seeds that have been treated chemically, or otherwise, to create a mutation. It’s not an accepted botanical grading, but often used by hobbyists

    Crowdfunded fern genomes published in Nature Plants

    Photo: Laura Dijkhuizen

    On July 17, 2014, the world decided it wanted to learn the genomic secrets hidden in the beautiful little, floating water fern, Azolla filiculoides. Not only did they want to know, but they paid for it too – a whopping $22,160 from 123 backers – through a crowdfunding site called Experiment.com (Azolla, a little fern with massive green potential).

    Four years later, they have what they paid for, and more! The project was backed at 147% of the budgeted goal, which allowed the researchers to sequence and analyze the first fern genome ever. With the extra funds, they could sequence a second fern, Salvinia cucullata. Their results appear this month in the journal Nature Plants (Fern genomes elucidate land plant evolution and cyanobacterial symbioses).. . . . (read more Fern-tastic!

    Test tube plants

    I first ran across test tube plants on eBay, which is a great source for them. Many nurseries who only sell in bulk to businesses and small shops and universities interested in conservation are using them to clone plants from tissue culture. Another common use is to start difficult seeds.

    The plants are grown in agar ( a clear gelatin like substance ) with a bit of sugar and sometimes plant hormones. The supplies are easily found online.

    I tried a couple of difficult seeds with out much success. Getting the seeds sterile without killing them is a bit of an art form. I’ll try some easier seeds next time.

    This is a great way to buy expensive plants.

    It’s a bit tricky deflasking them. All of the agar must be removed from the very tiny, fragile plants or it will mold and rot the seedling. I use toothpicks and a dish of water with about 15% bleach added. Soaking the seedlings helps.

    Plants started this way do not have the coating necessary to retain water. They must first be placed in terrariums, under lights and steady room temperature. Slowly acclimate them to sunlight, temperature differences, and life outside the terrarium.

    I’d start with a cheap flask of plants, it may take a few tries to get the hang of transferring them to a regular garden environment.

    I plan to try starting more seeds in flasks, I’ll post the process and results.

    More information:
    Tissue Culture or Micropropagation
    Atlanta Botanical Tissue Culture Lab
    Virginia Tech, An Amateur in Vitro: Tissue Culture at Home

    Pink Shell Prunus aka Ornamental Cherry

    I had forgotten about this tree, it was so buried in deep shade in a very dry section of the garden. It has survived droughts, floods, frosts, and bright, hot Houston afternoon sun before the oak shaded it out. Despite this it’s about 12′ tall and about 6′ across. I think I picked it up at an Arbor Day Give a Way as a 12″ tall twig.

    Last year I cleared out a lot of the overhead branches and it must’ve received enough sun to bloom, or the cold tripped it? Many fruit trees, even ornamentals, need several nights below freezing to flower and fruit. Be sure to check the number of ‘chill days’ needed on any fruit tree you buy. Only a few get enough nights below freezing in Houston to fruit.

    Mine’s not an impressive bloomer, perhaps now that it has bloomed it’ll improve each year? I have seen many of these putting on impressive shows around town. I’m hoping with the added sun this one will too next spring.

    Blooming occurs late Feb. early March

    I highly recommend it. I’ll try taking a few cuttings in the fall and see how easy it is to propagate. I’d love to have a few more of these around.

    Heliamphora ( Sun Pitchers )

    These grow on the mountains in Venezuela where they receive lots of sun, humidity, water and cool temperatures, which drop significantly at night. All of which makes them a challenging plant to grow. I’ve slaughtered many.

    First discovered in 1839 by explorers there are many species. The mountains are flat topped and widely separated leading to many similar, but different plants.

    These are carnivores, but use a bacteria in the pitcher fluid to break down the insects instead of producing their own enzymes. There was and is an ongoing debate as to how carnivorous they are.

    Outside through the Houston fall-winter-spring they do very well. It’s too warm in the summer for Heliamphoras to be outside. I have two growing quite well in terrariums, one on a windowsill that gets lots of morning light, one in a niche that has a light directly over the terrarium.

    Humidity seems to override all other things when growing Sun Pitchers. Bright light is next and like all carnivorous plants distilled water is best. I’ve not found a daily temperature change to be important for growing, it might be for flowering? Every time I’ve removed it from the terrarium it’s begun to die back, starting by browning at the top edge of the pitchers.