Violet-blue, white, and deep purple

On a visit to the Gamble Garden in Palo Alto yesterday, two striking plants (among the classic garden flowers of high to late summer): Catananche caerulea (with violet-blue flowers) and Angelica stricta ‘Purpurea’ (with deep purple flowers). Not on display: the familiar garden angelica plant (A. archangelica, with white flowers).



(I so wanted the genus name for this plant to be pronounced in French; I liked the sound. But of course, no; it’s pronounced in botanist’s Greek, as /kætəˈnæŋki/, like “cat-a-nankee”, which just sounds silly. But that’s the way it is.)

From Wikipedia:

The showy violet-blue perennial flower of the aster family Catananche caerulea bears the common names Cupid’s dart, blue cupidone, and cerverina. It is a garden flower and is often used in dried flower arrangements. The plant grows in clumps of narrow grey-green leaves, and later in the summer sends up long stems at the end of which bloom bright cornflower blue to lavender flowers with rectangular, fringed petals and deep purple centers. The closed buds are soft and silver and the bracts form a papery cup beneath the opened blossom.

It is native to the Mediterranean region. The flower was supposedly used by the ancient Greeks as a key ingredient in a love potion, hence the common name “Cupid’s dart”.

So: yet another flower of love. For more of these, see my 6/23/11 posting “More plants of love”, which takes up agapanthus (‘flower of love’), philodendron, philadelphus, nigella (or love-in-a-mist), southernwood (or lad’s love), amaranth (or love lies bleeding).

White. Coming across a plant labeled Angelica, I of course thought of the familiar white-flowered umbellifer.


From Wikipedia:

Angelica [wild celery] is a genus of about 60 species of tall biennial and perennial herbs in the family Apiaceae [umbellifers], native to temperate and subarctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere, reaching as far north as Iceland and Lapland and Greenland. They grow to 1–3 m (3 ft 3 in–9 ft 10 in) tall, with large bipinnate leaves and large compound umbels of white or greenish-white flowers.

… Some species are grown as flavoring agents or for their medicinal properties. The most notable of these is garden angelica (A. archangelica), which is commonly known simply as angelica. Natives of Lapland use the fleshy roots as food and the stalks as medicine. Crystallized strips of young angelica stems and midribs are green in colour and are sold as decorative and flavoursome cake decoration material, but may also be enjoyed on their own. The roots and seeds are sometimes used to flavor gin. Its presence accounts for the distinct flavor of many liqueurs, such as Chartreuse.

Deep purple. (Not the rock band.)


From the Annie’s Annuals site (Annie’s Annuals and Perennials in Richmond CA):

Angelica stricta ‘Purpurea’: Growing quickly to 4’ tall & 3’ across, its foliage is a beautiful, luxurious, purple-black, making it stand out like royalty amongst its neighbors. Next come the huge ruby boat shaped buds followed by large, 4-5” umbels color shifting from mauve to dark violet-purple.

Notes: self-sows; biennial; good for dried flowers. The stems as well as the foliage are purple-black, and when it’s done blooming, the flower heads dry to this color as well. That’s what we saw at the Gamble Garden, and striking it was — a dark Tartarean skeleton of a plant.

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