By David P. Davis
As we head into the last few weeks of summer, the West Virginia Botanic Garden (1061 Tyrone Road) is still in full bloom with Mexican sunflowers, tree hydrangea, fennel, cosmos and much, much more. And, we still have some plants forming blooms for a late-season show.
One rare plant now blooming at the WVBG is the pink turtlehead, Chelone obliqua, a member of the plantain family. Turtleheads get their name from their unique bloom that is formed by two, pink, lip-like petals. It also has a small yellow “beard” on the lower lip to complete its distinctive appearance.
Turtlehead is an herbaceous perennial that tolerates wet, shaded areas. They grow to about three feet tall with dark green foliage. You can find our turtleheads in the Butterfly Garden directly below our lower parking lot. There, they have taken up residence among queen of the prairie and Joe Pye weed.
Another unique plant now in bloom is Datura inoxia, with many common names including pricklyburr, moonflower and Indian-apple. Datura is a member of the family Solanaceae and, like other members of this diverse family, contains potent alkaloids that can affect mammals. Our Datura has taken up residence in the Yagle Garden and is showing off its bright white blooms that are about four inches long and wide. These large blooms last only a day or so and are transparent when they first open. After flowering, a distinctive, spiked seedpod is formed that is about the size of a ping-pong ball.
At the WVBG, we also happen to have a close relative to the Datura blooming in a pot on our deck at the Education and Event Building: angel’s trumpet, Brugmansia spp. This woody perennial is actually listed as “extinct in the wild” and can now only be found in cultivation. Our angel’s trumpet has done rather well this year after being transplanted to a new pot in the spring and has thrown dozens of large blooms that transition from cream to rose in color.
Come see this and more at the Garden and become a member today at WVBG.org!