June 27, 2017

Plant of the Month: Woodland Pinkroot

blooms 1
Spigelia marilandica

This month, I'm celebrating a plant that blooms with vibrant, bright color--even in shade. Woodland Pinkroot (Spigelia marilandica), also known as Indian Pink or Worm Grass, is new to my garden this year. It is not native to Wisconsin, but it's native just south of me in Illinois (and most of the Southeastern U.S.). It's hardy to zone 5 (USDA zones 5-9), and I love it, so I had to try it.

As often happens with new plants, this one came into my garden to fill a challenging spot. It's a north-facing area, shaded by small evergreens and large Honey Locust trees. The Pinkroot is doing OK there, but it's really taking off in a different location in the garden (of course!)--still north-facing, but at the base of the rock wall. I saved one plant for this spot. It will be interesting to see if any of the four plants come back next year.

Woodland Pinkroot likes dry to moist, acid-based, fertile soil, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. It tolerates sandy to medium loam soils, and shade to woodland openings. The descriptions match my garden conditions nearly exactly, except that its native range is further south.

buds 1
Green buds (fluff on foliage is from the neighborhood Cottonwood trees).

It's exciting to see the first green buds appear, when you know what's coming next.

bigger buds
I like this stage!

Before opening, and as they color, the buds appear pinkish. I really like this stage of the blooming cycle.

Not bad for first-year growth. I think it likes this spot by the rock wall.

Then the flowers open to bright red and yellow splashes, loved by hummingbirds and butterflies. Depending on the light, I'm finding that the color of the tubular flower part varies from fuchsia-red to scarlet.

Pinkroot is said to form clumps, and spreads by rhizomes and seeds. It gets its nicknames from the historical use of its roots as treatment for intestinal worms. I'd read that deer and rabbits tend to avoid it, but just to be safe I caged it. And others have reported that rabbit-grazing can be an issue.

Plant height is 1-2 feet tall, and about the same spread at the top. While it blooms in the spring in the south, it's blooming in my garden for the month of June and likely beyond.

Stay tuned: I'll keep you posted next spring if it makes a repeat appearance. Until then, I'll be watching closely for hummingbird traffic on the plants.

blooms 2
Who can resist?

To see more wildflowers blooming in gardens this June, visit Gail's Clay and Limestone for Wildflower Wednesday.

June 12, 2017

Plant Life Near the Grand Canyon


Who visits the Grand Canyon and notices the plants?


Last summer, we took a road trip out west for a family reunion, and stopped at notable landmarks along the way. When we were waiting to meet up with cousins to view the Grand Canyon, I photographed a few of the plants outside the visitor center.

Honestly, I find native plant life fascinating wherever I go. (I'm assuming most gardeners, naturalists, and plant enthusiasts do?) Many of the plants were marked with informative markers, which was helpful.

pink cloud
Fallugia paradoxa

My favorite plant of the lot was Apache Plume (Fallugia paradoxa), which I posted about back in July 2016. Others included:

wax currant
Ribes cereum

Wax Currant (Ribes cereum), with tiny maple-shaped leaves and red berries, traditionally used in jams, jellies, and pemmican.

white fir
Abies concolor

White Fir (Abies concolor), a large, lovely specimen with flat, curved needles and upright 3-5 inch cones.

Achillea millefolium

Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), caged and apparently delicious to the local wildlife.

cactus squirrel

Speaking of wildlife, a very brave squirrel put life and limb in danger to gnaw on a patch of cacti.

Opuntia polyacantha

No denying: It did look delicious.

utah juniper
Juniperus osteosperma

Utah Juniper (Juniperus osteosperma), with edible berries, bark for bedding, and wood for fuel and building.

golden rabbitbrush
Chrysothamnus nauseosa

Golden Rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus nauseosa), traditionally used for woven baskets.

pinion pine
Pinus edulis

The stately Pinyon Pine (Pinus edulis), a great source of wood for building materials and fires, nuts for eating, and sap for waterproofed baskets.

Several other plants weren't marked, so please correct me if I've misidentified them:

utah agave

Utah Agave (Agave utahensis)


Camphorweed (Heterotheca subaxillaris)


Sand Sagebrush (Artemisia filifolia)

banana yucca

Banana Yucca (Yucca baccata)

The scenery at the Grand Canyon was, of course, amazing. Apparently, a previous visitor lost his/her hat over it...


See the hat on the ledge?

I could describe the geology that created the Grand Canyon, itself, but I'll leave that to the National Park Service. Here are a few parting views out over the canyon...

grand canyon 1

grand canyon 2

grand canyon 3

grand canyon 4

grand canyon 5