Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Baptisia arachnifera, an endangered beauty

This endangered species is native to a small area in Georgia. These pics are from my recent trip to Plant Delights, and they show what a stunning plant this is. It is utterly unlike any other member of its genus, save perhaps B. perfoliata (which has somewhat similar foliage, but minus the striking silver color). In fact, I can't think of any plant normally grown in gardens, except for a bushy eucalyptus (which wouldn't survive in NY anyway) which gives quite the same effect.
To get this plant, or any other endangered species grown by any nursery, you most often have to go and pick it up yourself, since they apparently can't be shipped across state lines. Another example of a stupid federal rule, as the nurseries like PD and Woodlanders that propagate such species are doing us a major favor by helping to raise awareness about these species as well as to ensure their continued survival via propagation and growing in gardens. Note that this is not a substitute for conservation of the species in its native habitat, but it is extra insurance against extinction should such efforts fail, as well as the best way of making the preservation of endangered species a more tangible issue to people that can thus see and grow such plants.
I brought a plant of the Baptisia last year, and kept it in a pot for too long, then put it in the garden during the fall. It survived the harsh winter and came up, but then mysteriously died back. I dug up the root, and noted that the crown had some sort of a rot, but most of the thick roots looked okay. So I soaked it in a systemic fungicide for a couple of days, and cut off the roots to make cuttings of them. I planted them up in a pot and hope they will form buds. Several references indicate that Baptisia will grow from root cuttings, but I doubt many people have a lot of experience with this species. Meanwhile my second plant, purchased this year, is already in the garden.


Michael said...

I am taking a teaching environmental science class at the University of Georgia this summer. I am developing an inquiry activity for a class assignment. Basically I will have the students develop germination protocols for Baptisia arachnifera. They will use other Baptisia species to test their methods to see which one is the most effective. The reason I am writing is to ask for permission to use you B. arachnifera picture as part of the lesson layout. I will send you a copy of the once I finish it.

Michael Martin

geranios said...

Hi Michael,
I just came across your comment, sure you could use my pics for your class. If you can get a hold of a decent quantity of B arachnifolia seeds I would love to obtain a few to get some more plants going for my garden. My second plant is in its third year of growth but is not anything as big as the pics at Plant Delights show, so I hope to get more and try them out in my school garden which gets more sun and less tree root competition. It does appear to be winter hardy enough in our area, last winter was relatively harsh, and it did survive.

Carolyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carolyn said...

I live in Glynn county, which is just east of where Baptisia arachnifera grows. I am curious if you plant produces seed pods? I can obtain seeds from native plants but I am not sure if that is the right thing to do. Where did you obtain you plants from? I would love to grow one in my garden.



geranios said...

Hi Carolyn,
Just saw your comment. Since I moved house the 2 plants of B arachnifera did not survive the move, which is unfortunate. I can only hope to obtain some again if PD nursery propagates it when I next visit them. As for seed collection, not possible unless they are cultivated plants or on someone's land with permission, maybe. I would like to get seed one day to grow. Perhaps native plant nurseries in GA carry it, there is one on Garden Watchdog that gets great reviews but I don't know if they grow this species. You can email me at pelarg@aol.com.