Sunday, January 2, 2011

Berkheya radula

I have a particular fondness for the genus Berkheya, most of which are found in mountainous regions of South Africa. They tend to have prickly but attractive foliage and large daisies in yellow, white, or sometimes pale blue. Berkheya radula is one of the less viscious ones, with pale yellow flowers borne on attractively winged stems. Although I have two plants grown from seed, and they both flowered twice in the school garden this year, they never quite overlapped enough in flowering times to get them to cross pollinate--which appears to be essential in getting fertile seed set, as with so many other Asteraceae. The large leaves are also attractive in their own right; they are a deep green with a puckered texture and a white underside. This species is not from the highest altitudes in South Africa, so I chickened out and dug both plants for overwintering indoors after some light frosts. They appear to be regrowing just fine under lights in my classroom. I will set them out again next year, and hopefully get enough seed (or buy some more when it is available from Silverhill) to leave a few plants outside to test for winter hardiness in the future.

1 comment:

Polly Hutchison said...

Hi, I just happened upon your blog and I am delighted. I found this Berkheya to be very pretty, bloomed in Sept (in RI) from Feb. sowing. VERY prickly, though. Got it from JL Hudson.

—Berkheya purpurea. (d,h) BERK-24. Packet: $3.00
'ZULU WARRIOR'. Large silvery-blue to lavender 3" wide daisies with dark centers, in late summer. Tender thistle-like perennial to 15 - 28". S. Africa. Good cut flowers. Germinates in 1 - 2 weeks.