Pseuderanthemum variable

Funny how the most common plants are the most difficult to identify. This one had me stumped for a long time.

It’s a weed, grows in shady areas, not invasive. It shows up some years and not others. This year has been very rainy, winter was cold, one or both or something else must trigger it.

Typically grows in zones 11-9b
Blooms late summer – early fall ( in Houston )
Propagate by dividing rhizomes, will self sow
Stays under 6″ in height
Grows in shady rain forests

Native to Australia
Host plant for Australian Leafwing butterfly
Relative of African Violet

( Australians claim it is impossible to remove by hand or weed killer, so it’s a good thing it’s not invasive )

It’s also a food for White Bearded Dragons. How could you not like it?

Pseuderanthemum is from Greek ‘false Eranthemum’

Information is scarce, as is often the case with common plants
Some Magnetic Island Plants

Button Bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)

This is a deciduous shrub in zone 5 through 10. It blooms early summer with fragrant white spherical flowers. I’ve only seen it at the edge of wetlands growing wild.

The branches were used by Native Americans in arrows and stick games

Leaves contain glucosides, may cause skin rashes, severe toxin if ingested – keep from humans and pets

Sun to part shade
5′-15′ tall
4′-8′ spread
prefers wet soil, wetlands
Attracts butterflies, bees and hummingbirds

Easily grown from stem cuttings, challenging to grow from seed

Native to US

Papaver rhoeas aka Poppies

You see these often in Austin, it’s a bit too warm for them in Houston. They bloom in March each year. Poppies are annual but will reseed themselves. If you are purchasing seeds plant them in the fall after it gets chilly.

Seeds will survive in the soil for years, plants appear when the soil is disturbed exposing the seeds to some light. This is why they were so commonly seen near the trenches of WWI

Poppies produce prodigious amounts of pollen making them a great addition to a bee garden.

Native to Africa, extensively found throughout Middle East and the colder parts of Europe

Lonicera japonica ‘Halliana’ aka Japanese Honeysuckle Vine

The first mention of it in the US is in the early 1800s in Ohio. It was brought to US to use to control soil erosion. Later it became a popular ornamental plant.

Flowers open at dusk to attract hawk moths who are the main pollinators. While they are frequently visited by bees, bees tend to remove more pollen than they leave for pollination.

Propagate by cutting

Native to Russia and Central Asia, listed as invasive by multiple sources. Birds eating seeds do most of the spreading, to control, trim plants before seeds form.

Many components of the plant are medicinal and parts are edible (Foraging Texas), but the berries are poison. Near as I can tell almost every plant down here is trying to murder you so proceed with caution.

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

Echinacea purpurea aka Purple Coneflower

Perennial, loves sun, doesn’t mind occasional dry spells, benefits from dead heading and dividing clumps every 3 years or so.

Native to North America, there are about 9 species in this genus. It’s been a garden favorite as far back as the early 1900s where it is often referred to as the ‘dull pink coneflower’

It is a strongly recommended addition to bee and butterfly gardens and said to be deer resistant

Rudbeckia hirta aka Black Eyed Susan

Not surprisingly this is in the sunflower branch of the family tree and North American native.

It loves lots of sun, tolerate occasional dry spells and are easily grown from seed or pick up a flat of the plants and plant them.

They are perennials, divide them every few years to keep them flowering.

Dead heading the plants ( cut off spent flowers before they go to seed ) will prolong the blooming cycle.

Used in traditional medicine, not all the parts are edible. ( Don’t try it at home ) There are many references to it as a kitchen garden plant as far back as the early 1800s. The older mentions all reference the orange center, not all the newer varieties still have the orange center.