BY DAVID P. DAVIS
As August gives way to September, late summer wildflowers (notably goldenrods and iron weeds in the aster family) will dominate meadows in West Virginia.
Still, there are other blooms to capture your eye as you stroll the West Virginia Botanic Garden. These include crinum lilies (swamp lily), spider flower (Cleome), and scarlet rose mallow.
Scarlet rose mallow (Hibiscus coccineus) is a late blooming herbaceous perennial in the mallow family. It is notable as the plant produces just a few tall stalks, 6 to 8 feet tall, with large, five-petal blooms. Out of the center shoots a prominent staminal column that has many pollen-bearing anthers near the apex; a typical hibiscus bloom. With its deep scarlet color, these blooms catch your eye as you stroll in the Yagle Garden.
In this same area of the Yagle Garden, crinum lilies are also in bloom. Crinum lilies are a winter hardy amaryllis and blooms are at the apex of a stalk that is up to 5 feet tall. Crinum lilies also have distinctive broad blade-like leaves that are each 3-4 feet in length. Our crinum blooms are also scarlet in color, but perhaps just a shade lighter than the scarlet rose mallow, and have a trumpet-like appearance.
And, to cap it all off, just a few feet further down the slope in the Yagle Garden are some spider flowers, Cleome spp., that are in bloom. Cleome blooms cap long stalks and can bloom throughout the summer. As new flowers open in shades of pink and purple, the older flowers form slender pods with maturing seeds inside. Once mature, these pods will pop open and scatter seed that will provide a crop of spider flowers for next summer. As this is not guaranteed, we have been collecting seed each season to use in the next to ensure that we have these unique blooms resident in the garden.
Come see this and more at your WVBG and become a member today.
FOR INFORMATION, MAPS AND MORE, go to WVBG.org or visit at 1061 Tyrone Road in Morgantown.