Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Names Game pt 3

Well, after a week's absence I'm back with more (hopefully) fun Names Game selections. For those of you who didn't see the first two, here is the idea. Remember that old board game Concentration, where you had to remember where the pair of a certain image was 'hidden?' I've adapted that to the common or varietal names of flowering plants. It'll be obvious how this works from reading the first couple of entries. Sometimes the connection is simply the name (or similar name); sometimes the names refer to something in common and occasionally what they have in common is a pop culture reference. Okay, that said, here is part three.

Iris confusa (Bamboo iris) + Coniogramme japonica (Bamboo fern). One could create an interesting subsection of this game just for plants whose common names reference a plant that neither of them are actually related to, horticulturally speaking. So, here, these two plants use the bamboo descriptive more for the shape of their leaves. The former is a free branching iris with lightly fragrant blooms and the latter has slender blade-like fronds that might remind some of bamboo (though not me).
Cotinus (Smoke tree) + Nicotiana (Flowering tobacco). Okay, no real connection except for the 'smoke' and 'smoking' reference. The former's common name refers of course to its puffs of delicate flowers that resemble smoke and the latter is a genus of primarily ornamental plants. It's only N. tabacum that's grown for smoking tobacco.
Ampelopsis (Porcelain Berry vine) + Cobaea scandens (Cup and Saucer vine). The connection? Why, the idea of a British afternoon tea of course, when one brings out one's porcelain china. Ampelopsis is most famous for its iridescent blue berries and Cobaea for pulling off the neat trick of having its 'cups' start out green then gradually color in till they're a rich burgundy.
Since we're on a food theme, how about Streptosolen (Marmalade bush) + Vinca 'Blackberry Jam.'  The former has now become a widely known and beloved shrub for those wanting to add a spectrum of oranges and peaches and golds to one's garden. The Vinca, this the sun-loving annual plant, came out in a new color last year and it offers the yummiest, deepest wine colored flowers.
Sometimes you have a word in common that seems unlikely to be used in naming plants but there it is. Case in point, the word 'tongue.' For our purposes that's Salpiglossis sinuata (Painted Tongue) and Sansevieria (Mother-in-Law Tongue). The former owes its common name to the intricate markings in the throat of each flower while the latter plant, well, I think that's self explanatory. One may think I've pulled the only two 'tongue' names out of the hort world but nope. One could also add Hart's Tongue fern, among others.
Here's a fun entry. I've paired Lotus 'Amazon Sunset' (Parrot's Beak) with Impatiens niamniamensis, also known as Congo Cockatoo. Both display beak-shaped flowers, the former soft reddish orange flowers and the latter, a real curiosity plant, waxy bi-colored red and yellow flowers. "Squawk, Polly want some Maxsea fertilizer?"
Of course it's inevitable that U.S. Presidents have to sneak in here. There's a "Mr. Lincoln" rose and Martha Washington pelargoniums. The former is a rich red rose and the latter is a type of geranium. Now, hush, hush, it is believed the recent rose "Hot Cocoa" was inspired by Michelle Obama becoming the First Lady. Keep that on the QT.
Sometimes the connection is related to a country or culture. Thus we have Aquilegia 'Leprechaun Gold' and Shamrock Oxalis. The former is an exceptionally pretty columbine, featuring variegated golden foliage and purple flowers while the latter is a group of Oxalis with shamrock-like leaves. Whether these plants have been 'lucky' for you, well let's hope so!
Back to food, a recurring theme in plant names (sometimes I swear it's as if the people coming up with these variety or common names have been fasting for a week). Here it's seafood (because of course who wouldn't think of seafood when naming a flower. Groan). Justicia brandegeeana (Shrimp plant) naturally would go with Ajuga 'Black Scallop.' The former has flowers whose vertically stacking peach-colored bracts look eerily like those of a shrimp. The Ajuga name?Probably the scalloped edges of the leaf but hey sea scallops works for me too.
Where a common name like 'tongue' does seem a bit out of place, some common names do seem quite natural for the world of plants. One of those would be 'star.' My pairing today is Laurentia axillaris (Blue Stars) and Hydrangea 'Shooting Star.' Now there could be more common entries (ie Blue Star Creeper) but, well, Blue Stars is an exceptionally pretty and durable plant (see photo here). Meanwhile the 'Shooting Star' hydrangea is equally lovely, small white flowers seeming to explode out away from the plant's center foliage.
And then there's that obvious link between gardening and ... embroidery? All will be revealed. Start with the Scabiosa genus, known as the Pincushion flower. Avid gardeners know where I'm heading next -- Leucospermum, a South African plant commonly known as the Pincushion shrub. Fortunately, no need to worry about getting 'pricked' with either plant.
'Foam' might be an odd concept to come across in gardening, unless maybe it's a kneeling pad made of foam. In fact there are at least two flowers that incorporate this name -- Limnanthes douglasii Meadowfoam) and Tiarella wherryi (Foam flower). The former is a CA native wildflower that has lovely yellow and white flowers. The Tiarella, native to the South, seems like a better choice for the common name, given its wispy white flowers.
Schizostylis coccinea + Schizophragma hydrangeoides. I just had to add this pair of 'schizos.' Of course the term 'schizo' here does not refer to a plant with multiple personalities (though the way some plants act one wonders) but derives from the Greek, meaning 'divided.' In the latter plant, its genus name means 'divided wall,' referring to the split walls of the fruit. This plant is commonly called 'climbing hydrangea while the Schizostylis belongs to a group of bulbs called Kaffir lilies.
Animal names show up in common names with some regularity. Here are two of my favorites: Lysimachia clethroides (Gooseneck strife) + Ribes uva-crispa, better known as Gooseberry. I guess what is good for the gander is good for the goose. BTW, Gooseneck strife has an especially lovely flower, forming a sloping then upturned cone of pure white flowers.
Let's take a trip to South America, starting with the intoxicating Mandevilla laxa (Chilean jasmine). While we're there we can look up the Sacred Flower of the Andes (Cantua buxifolia). The former produces pure white flowers that have a truly intoxicating fragrance. And the latter makes a sort of Brugmansia-like tall shrub with vivid fuchsia or red, flared tubular flowers. Each bring a bit of the high altitude heavens to your garden.
Staying local? How about the CA native Mimulus aurantiacus (Sticky Monkey flower) paired with a decidedly non-local Araucaria araucana. Not familiar with this plant? How about its common name -- Monkey Puzzle tree? I'll hold off on the simian jokes. You probably couldn't find two plants with a similar common name be so different but hey that's all part of the fun in the Names Game.
Speaking of 'sticky,' how about Melianthus major (Peanut Butter bush) and Jelly Bean sedum? Not quite PBJ but close enough for our purposes. And yes, it isn't just creative license calling the Melianthus the PB bush. It's leaves actually reek of peanut butter. Paging Mr. Darwin. Umm, how exactly did that quality further this plant's evolution? As to Jelly Bean sedum, well, the tiny round 'leaves' really do look like jelly beans, especially given their pink, peach and gold colors.
It's easy to find plants that have the word 'bee' associated with them but here are two that may not be immediately known. Monarda is to those in the know better recognized by the common name Bee Balm. And there's a wonderful Salvia called Bee's Bliss. That kind of says it all!
And since it's "time to go" I'll end with plants associated with the time of day. First up is Mirabilis jalapa, better known as Four O'Clocks (because their fragrant flowers open later in the afternoon). And then there's everyone's favorite -- Hylocereus undatus. Just kidding. Only cacti enthusiasts are likely to know this plant, affectionally known as Dragon Fruit. Its flowers open at night. This ornamental would be worth having just for the collection of bizarre common names associated with it. These include: Strawberry Pear, Belle of the Night, Cinderella Plant and Jesus in the Cradle. You got me on the last one.

I hope these entries will stimulate you to think of your own Names Game entries. And for those who missed parts one and two of the Names Game, scroll back through Older Posts to find them. Hope these tickled your curiosity bone. And now the photos!

Portulaca 'Soleil Tangerine.' Another in the series of groovy, colorful portulacas, this one having rounded petals not the crinkled ones found on bedding portulacas.

Another shot of my Rhodanthe, this time of the whole plant. Though the stems usually grow upright, this one decided to cascade. Papery flowers are only the beginning of this annual's charms.

Mandevilla laxa. Everyone buys this Chilean jasmine for its intoxicating scent but as this photo makes obvious, the flowers are almost a blinding white! If there was a 'white' version of a black hole, this flower would be it. 

Nothing remarkable about this Clematis niobe, except for the fact that it appeared a full three months after the main flowering period. No idea why it happened but love the color and this rates as a 'welcome' surprise.

Flower quiz? "Do you know who I am?" Yes? No? It's a Potentilla 'Melton Fire.' This member of the Rosaceae family, commonly known as Cinquefoil, is a tough little guy and is just starting its summer blooming period. 

Tecomas were one of the 'It' plants of 2014 and here is a new addition, the wonderfully colorful T. stans 'Bells of Fire.' Unlike other Tecomas, which can get 8-10' tall and be semi-scandent, T. stans varieties are a dwarf bush type, usually reaching only 3-5' in height. They are profuse bloomers, starting in early summer and continuing well into the fall.

Clerodendrum ugandense. This Blue Bower shrub has the prettiest pea-like blue flowers, appearing in great numbers in summer and fall. It's a part sun, part shade plant and thus versatile, though its size (to 10') means you need the room.

I rarely include photos of plants not in my garden but here I make an exception. This is my neighbor's Lonicera hildebrandiana, better known as Giant Burmese honeysuckle. And giant it is. Each flower is easily three times the size of the common japonica types. Though it's not as fragrant, the sheer size and subtle colors of its flowers make a great plant for, in this case, covering a carport. 

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Although the flower is certainly pretty enough all on its own, here I took a bit of an angle to show these flowers amazing stamen and stigma. They are much more elongated than in most flowers. Many hibiscus are self-pollinators, though they are also pollinated by insects and birds.

Here is the Laurentia 'Blue Stars' mentioned above. To me they look like a swarm of tiny blue birds, spooked into flight. 

So we could make a little rock song about this fern. "I got one, I got two. Give me three, give me four, give me a Five Finger fern." (Bass and drum break). Yep, this is indeed a 5 Finger fern and it's one of the more vigorous of our California native ferns.

Crocosmia variety. Perpetual winner of the 'Easiest bulb to Grow' contest. No truth to the rumor that Crocosmias are related to rabbits. Those having grown this bulb will get the joke (both produce many, many 'offspring'). Pretty though, especially if one likes the color orange.

Last but not least, my new Mimulus 'Fiesta Marigold.' One of the most vividly colored of all the Mimulus hybrids.

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