Friday, February 25, 2011

Vernonia sp Piedade

Well, actually I suspect that this is a species of Ageratum, but whatever it really is, it is a nice Brazilian plant that looks good in the garden and also doesn't mind being lifted before frost and brought indoors. In fact it continues to bloom and set seed in my classroom under lights at this moment. I hope it turns out to be daylength neutral, as I suspect, since it continues to set new buds indoors, though it did not begin to flower until fall outdoors, however the 2 plants were small when planted out rather late, and may simply have needed to get big enough to bloom. If it is daylength neutral, it will make a far more valuable contribution to the garden in northern climates than if it requires long nights to flower, since it could be grown as a summer annual. I rather like the foliage better than the messy leaves of the common garden ageratums, this specie's leaves are not so bristly and have a more substantial texture. It also appears to set numerous seeds by itself, but I have not tested these for viability yet. Most Asteraceae are self infertile, but some set copious seed via self fertilization or even apomixis (a kind of cloning via weirdly produced seeds, common in Taraxacum officinale, for example). I'm looking forward to propping it soon and setting more plants out next year in the garden, it is a pretty thing, and as might be imagined, butterflies and bees do love it.

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