Thursday, March 6, 2008

Amaranthus (Pigmy Torch, Pigweed, Prince's Feather)

Globeflower Herb with Gomphrena by ©Layne Kennedy

Here comes a brief about Amaranthus species:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Prince's Feather - Pygmy Torch
Amaranthus, collectively known as amaranth or pigweed, is a cosmopolitan genus of herbs. Approximately 60 species are presently recognised, with inflorescences and foliage ranging from purple and red to gold. Members of this genus share many characteristics and uses with members of the closely related genus Celosia.

Amaranthus caudatus

Amaranthus hypochondriacus (Tassel flower, Love-lies-bleeding, Prince-of-Wales-feather or Prince's feather)

An Amaranthus hypnochondriatus stands in a garden in England, UKOrigins
Amaranthus has a long, distinguished history as a religious and ceremonial plant and as a food. In fact, its use as an ornamental bloom is a relatively recent development. A native of South America, amananthus' name is derived from the Greek amarantos, which means "unfading" and is an appropriate reference to the flower's long-lasting deep red, green or yellow blooms. Amaranthus, also commonly known as love-lies-bleeding and tassel-flower, is one of about 50 species of coarse annual herbs in the Amaranthaceae family and is related to gomphrena and celosia.

amaranthus on garden

Availability and Vase Life
April to December.
7-10 days.

amaranthus hypochondriacusDesign Uses
Amaranthus is a popular choice in arrangements since its striking shades and forms add bold color and interesting texture to floral designs. Its strong shapes make it useful as a form or line flower. Hanging amaranthus is a particularly popular ingredient in waterfall and cascading designs.

Pygmy Torch or  Pig weed

Monday, March 3, 2008

Alstroemeria (Peruvian lily)

Alstroemeria (Peruvian lily, Inca Lily)

alstroemeria, altroemeria, peruvian lilyMeaning
Wealth, prosperity, fortune

Of South American origin, alstroemeria--also known as Peruvian lily--is a member of the Amaryllidaceae family and is related to the onion, daffodil, agapanthus and nerine. Brought to Europe in the 18th century to be named by the renowned botanist Carl Linnaeus, alstroemerias are now grown internationally.

Availability and Vase Life
Readily available in ample supply year-round, alstroemerias come in a wide range of colors, including white, pink, yellow, salmon, red, lavender, orange, bronze and bicolors.

They're ethylene-sensitive flowers, but with proper care and handling, alstroemerias may attain a vase life of 6-14 days, depending upon the cultivar. Avoid buying flowers with yellowing or transparent leaves; these are signs of ethylene damage.
lavender peruvian lily, alstroemeria, altroemeria
Care and Handling
Trim stems under water. Place flowers in a clean container containing a properly prepared solution of fresh flower food. Avoid using water with high fluoride levels, if possible, since alstroemerias are susceptible to fluoride damage.

yellow alstroemeria, peruvian lilyDesign Uses
Alstroemerias are exceedingly versatile flowers--in terms of both color and form. Always a perfect color highlight for seasonal vase arrangements, they also serve as lovely line flowers in more contemporary arrangements, and--in a short-stemmed cluster--as vivid focal areas. Stripping the foliage is often advisable, since it will yellow long before the flowers fade.

Alstroemeria Peregrina

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

red peruvian lily, inca lily, altroemeriaAlstroemeria (syn. Alstremeria), commonly called the Peruvian Lily or Lily of the Incas, is a South American genus of about 50 species of flowering plants. Almost all of the species are restricted to one of two distinct centers of diversity, one in central Chile, the other in eastern Brazil. Species of Alstroemeria from Chile are winter-growing plants while those of Brazil are summer-growing. All are long-lived perennials except A. (Taltalia) graminea, a diminutive annual from the Atacama Desert of Chile.

pink peruvian lily on a vaseThe genus was named for the Swedish baron Clas Alströmer (Claus von Alstroemer) by his close friend Carolus Linnaeus. The plant was first described by the French botanist Louis Feuillée. The plant's seeds were among many collected by Alströmer on a trip to South America in 1753.

The plants are distinctive vegetatively, with a rootstock consisting of a slender rhizome or group of rhizomes (the "crown"). Storage roots consist of sausage-like water storing structures "suspended" from the rhizome by major roots. In this way the root system resembles that of dahlias. Above-ground shoots may be very short in some alpine Andean species (a few cm tall) or up to about 1.5 m tall in other species. Each year (more often in some hybrids) up to 80 new shoots are produced from the rootstock and each terminates in an umbel of a few up to 10 or so flowers.
yellow alstroemeria on a table
Perhaps the most fascinating- and telltale- morphological trait of Alstroemeria and its relatives is the fact that the leaves are resupinate, that is, they twist from the base so that what appears to be the upper leaf surface is in fact the lower leaf surface. This very unusual botanical feature is easily observed in the leaves on cut flowers from the florist.

The flowers of Alstroemeria are generally showy and appear to be suited to pollination by bees (?). All six tepals (tepal denotes either petal or sepal when both are similar, as in lilies, amaryllis, etc.) are roughly similar. In some species two tepals are enlarged and vividly colored and act as "flags" for pollination. The ovary is inferior and the seeds are hard and rounded.

alstroemeria aka lily, peruvian, pinkSee also Bomarea, the other major genus in the Alstroemeriaceae. They are essentially twining alstroemerias (though some species are upright), with most species occurring in the Andes.

Selected species:

Alstroemeria aurea - Lily of the Incas.
Alstroemeria aurantiaca - Peruvian Lily
Alstroemeria caryophyllacea - Brazilian Lily
Alstroemeria haemantha - Purplespot Parrot Lily
Alstroemeria ligtu - Lily-of-the-Nile
Alstroemeria psittacina - Lily of the Incas, White-edged Peruvian Lily
Alstroemeria pulchella - Parrot Lily, Parrot Flower, Red Parrot Beak, New Zealand Christmas Bell

Cultivation and uses
Alstroemeria ligtu
Alstroemeria ligtu

Many hybrids and about 190 cultivars have been developed, with different markings and colors, ranging from white, golden yellow, orange, to apricot, pink, red, purple and lavender. The most popular and showy hybrids commonly grown today result from crosses between species from Chile (winter-growing) with species from Brazil (summer-growing). This strategy has overcome the problem of seasonal dormancy and resulted in plants that are evergreen or nearly so and flower for most of the year. This breeding work derives mainly from trials that began in the United States in the 1980s. The flower, which resembles a miniature lily, is very popular for bouquets and flower arrangements in the commercial cut flower trade. They have a vase life of about two weeks. It is sometimes called 'Ulster Mary' (as a word corruption).

Moist alstroemeria, altroemeria
Other published names

Alstroemeria achirae, Alstroemeria albiflora, Alstroemeria altoparadisea, Alstroemeria amazonica, Alstroemeria anajeana, Alstroemeria anceps, Alstroemeria angustifolia, Alstroemeria annapolina, Alstroemeria apertiflora, Alstroemeria aquidauanica, Alstroemeria araucana, Alstroemeria argento-vittata, Alstroemeria arnicana, Alstroemeria atrorubra, Alstroemeria aulica, Alstroemeria aurantiaca, Alstroemeria bahiensis, Alstroemeria bakeri, Alstroemeria berteroiana, Alstroemeria bilabiata, Alstroemeria bracteata, Alstroemeria brasiliensis, Alstroemeria burchellii, Alstroemeria butantanensis, Alstroemeria caiaponica, Alstroemeria campaniflora, Alstroemeria cantillanica, Alstroemeria caudiculata, Alstroemeria chapadensis, Alstroemeria chilensis, Alstroemeria chillanensis, Alstroemeria chiloensis, Alstroemeria chorillensis, Alstroemeria ciliata, Alstroemeria cordifolia, Alstroemeria crispata, Alstroemeria cuiabana, Alstroemeria cultrifolia, Alstroemeria cunea, Alstroemeria curralensis, Alstroemeria damaziana, Alstroemeria decora, Alstroemeria denticulata, Alstroemeria despuenta, Alstroemeria diazi, Alstroemeria didierana, Alstroemeria diluta, Alstroemeria discolor, Alstroemeria distichifolia, Alstroemeria douradensis, Alstroemeria edulis, Alstroemeria epulauquensis, Alstroemeria espigonensis, Alstroemeria fiebrieiana, Alstroemeria firmulifolia, Alstroemeria flava, Alstroemeria floribunda, Alstroemeria fluminensis, Alstroemeria foliosa, Alstroemeria fuscovinosa, Alstroemeria garaventae, Alstroemeria gardneri, Alstroemeria gayana, Alstroemeria glaucandra, Alstroemeria graminea, Alstroemeria grandifolia, Alstroemeria hassleriana, Alstroemeria huemulina, Alstroemeria hygrophila, Alstroemeria ibitipocae, Alstroemeria igarapavica, Alstroemeria inaequalis, Alstroemeria inconspicua, Alstroemeria inodora, Alstroemeria insignis, Alstroemeria involucrosa, Alstroemeria isabellana, Alstroemeria itabiritensis, Alstroemeria itatiaica, Alstroemeria jacobi, Alstroemeria jequitiana, Alstroemeria jocunda, Alstroemeria kunziana, Alstroemeria lacrima-solis, Alstroemeria lactilutea, Alstroemeria latifolia, Alstroemeria lineatiflora, Alstroemeria litterata, Alstroemeria longaviensis, Alstroemeria longistaminea, Alstroemeria longistyla, Alstroemeria lutea, Alstroemeria macraeana, Alstroemeria macrocarpa, Alstroemeria magenta, Alstroemeria magna, Alstroemeria magnifica, Alstroemeria malmeana, Alstroemeria meyeniana, Alstroemeria modesta, Alstroemeria monantha, Alstroemeria monticola, Alstroemeria mutabilis, Alstroemeria nana, Alstroemeria nervosa, Alstroemeria nidularis, Alstroemeria nubigena, Alstroemeria ochagavii, Alstroemeria odorata, Alstroemeria orchidioides, Alstroemeria oreas, Alstroemeria pallens, Alstroemeria parviflora, Alstroemeria parvula, Alstroemeria patagonica, Alstroemeria pauciflora, Alstroemeria paupercula, Alstroemeria pavoniana, Alstroemeria pelegrina, Alstroemeria philippii, Alstroemeria piauhyensis, Alstroemeria plantaginea, Alstroemeria platyphylla, Alstroemeria poetica, Alstroemeria polpaicana, Alstroemeria polyphylla, Alstroemeriapubiflora, Alstroemeria pudica, Alstroemeria punctata, Alstroemeria pygmaea, Alstroemeria radula, Alstroemeria reclinata, Alstroemeria reflexa, Alstroemeria regnelliana, Alstroemeria revoluta, Alstroemeria riedelliana, Alstroemeria rosea, Alstroemeria roseoviridis, Alstroemeria rubra, Alstroemeria sabulosa, Alstroemeria salsilloides, Alstroemeria scaberula, Alstroemeria schenkiana, Alstroemeria schizanthoides, Alstroemeria sellowiana, Alstroemeria sierrae, Alstroemeria sotoana, Alstroemeria soukupii, Alstroemeria spathulata, Alstroemeria spectabilis, Alstroemeria stenopetala, Alstroemeria subrosulacea, Alstroemeria talcaensis, Alstroemeria timida, Alstroemeria umbrosa, Alstroemeria venusta, Alstroemeria versicolor, Alstroemeria violacea, Alstroemeria virginalis, Alstroemeria viridiflora, Alstroemeria volckmanni, Alstroemeria werdermannii, Alstroemeria xanthina, Alstroemeria xavantinensis, Alstroemeria yaelae, Alstroemeria zamioides, Alstroemeria zoelneri.

Source: Alstroemeria on Wikipedia Encyclopedia

Bee in alstroemeria

Friday, February 29, 2008

Alpinia, Red Ginger, Ostrich Plume (Alpinia purpurata)

Alpinia, Red Ginger, Ostrich Plume or Alpinia Purpurata


Green-Crowned Brilliant Hummingbird Feeding on Ginger Torch © Frans LantingThe Zingiberaceae family includes about 40 genera of tropical gingers native to Indo-Malaysia, Indonesia, eastern Asia and Australia. Zingiber officinale, or commercial ginger, is grown and sold for its aromatic rhizomes, while other genera are grown for cut-flower use. Zingiber is derived from a Sanskrit word meaning "horn-shaped."

alpinia purpurata ginger by Forest & Kim Starr Availability and Vase Life

Year round.
14-21 days.

Care and Handling

Cold sensitive. Do not expose to temperatures below 45 F. If flowers appear wilted, soak the entire stem and bracts in room temperature (70-75 F) water for 1/2 an hour.

Design Uses

Pink ginger hawaiian alpinia, Pink Cone Ginger, © George B. DieboldGinger has a strong vertical line and is often used to add height to arrangements. May need to use wire to secure stems when using foam.

Colors: Bright red, pink.

The red flower of a ginger plant at Somerset Falls, Port Antonio, Jamaica. © Bob Krist
Red Ginger (Alpinia purpurata), also called Ostrich Plume and Pink Cone Ginger, are native Malaysian plants with showy flowers on long brightly colored red bracts. They look like the bloom, but the true flower is the small white flower on top.

Its two varieties are called Jungle King and Jungle Queen. Red Ginger grows in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and many Central American nations, including Belize.

Red ginger can also be grown in South Florida since, in general, the region does not fall below freezing temperatures. It prefers partial shade and moist humid conditions, although it can tolerate full sun in some climates. It tends to like to be well watered and not left to dry out.

Ginger can also be grown as a houseplant and its cut flowers can be used in arrangements.

Ginger tends to spread.

Red Ginger, Alpinia, Ostrich Plume, Alpinia purpurata© Wolfgang Kaehler

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Allium species

Allium spp. (Ornamental Onion)

Credits to for the allium Rosenbachianum photoMeaning
Unity, humility, patience

The genus Allium includes a group of onion-, chive- and garlic-related flowering plants that have been prized since ancient times for their medicinal, aphrodisiac and culinary qualities. Members of the Liliaceae family, two allium varieties are commonly used by today's florists. Allium giganteum, or giant onion, measures 3 to 4 feet tall and features 4- to 5-inch, white, blue, lavender or purple snowball-shaped inflorescences atop bare stems, while A. sphaerocephalon, or drumstick chives, are 2 to 3 feet tall, with smaller, oval-shaped, purple flowers.

Vase Life
7-10 days.

Care and Handling
To revive flattened heads, hold upside down with stem between palms of hands and roll back and forth to spin and fluff head. Onion odor emitted when cut will dissipate, but avoid using hot water, which tends to intensify smell.

Design Uses
A striking flower form with a strong line element, allium works well in designs ranging from flowing to sparse.

Colors: Lilac, lavender, violet-blue, ans white.

Purple Allium © Paul EdmondsonAllium is the onion genus, with about 1250 species, making it one of the largest plant genera in the world. They are perennial bulbous plants that produce chemical compounds (mostly cystein sulfoxide) that give them a characteristic onion or garlic taste and odor, and many are used as food plants. Allium is classified in family Alliaceae although some classifications have included it in the lily family (Liliaceae).

Allium species occur in temperate climates of the northern hemisphere, except for a few species occurring in Chile (as Allium juncifolium), Brazil (Allium sellovianum) or tropical Africa (Allium spathaceum). They can vary in height between 5 cm and 150 cm. The flowers form an umbel at the top of a leafless stalk. The bulbs vary in size between species, from very small (around 2–3 mm in diameter) to rather big (8–10 cm). Some species (such as Welsh onion, A. fistulosum) develop thickened leaf-bases rather than forming bulbs as such.

Most bulbous alliums increase by forming little bulbs or "offsets" around the old one, as well as by seed. Several species can form many bulbils (tiny bulbs) in the flowerhead; in the so-called "tree onion" (A. cepa Proliferum Group) the bulbils are few, but large enough to be used for pickling.

Members of the genus include many valued vegetables such as onions, shallots, leeks and herbs such as garlic and chives. A strong "oniony" odor is characteristic of the whole genus, but not all members are equally flavorful.

Some Allium species, including A. cristophii and A. giganteum, are used as border plants for their flowers, and their "architectural" qualities. Several hybrids have been bred, or selected, with rich purple flowers. Allium hollandicum 'Purple Sensation' is one of the most popular and has been given an Award of Garden Merit (H4). By contrast, other species (such as the invasive Allium triquetrum) can become troublesome garden weeds.

Various Allium species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera including Cabbage Moth, Common Swift moth (recorded on garlic), Garden Dart moth, Large Yellow Underwing moth, Nutmeg moth, Setaceous Hebrew Character moth, Turnip Moth and Schinia rosea, a moth which feeds exclusively on Allium sp.

Allium flower lilac green © Clive Nichols

Monday, February 18, 2008

Agapanthus africanus

Agapanthus africanus (African Lily, Lily of the Nile)

Agapanthus africanus, African Lily, Lily of the Nile, Agapanthus umbellatus, Blue African Lily, photo, image, pic, picsOrigins
A member of the Amaryllidaceae family, the agapanthus derives its name from the Greek words for "love" and "flower." Agapanthus orientalis and Agapanthus africanus, 2 of about 9 species in this group of South African herbs, and the varieties used most often by florists, have many lovable characteristics. Large, round heads covered with blue or white tubular flowers top each tall, elegant agapanthus stem.

Vase Life
6-10 Days

Design Uses
Provides a strong line element with a bold but spacious quality. Individual florets can be wired and taped for corsage work.

Blue, lavender, and white.

Agapanthus africanusAgapanthus africanus, African Lily, Lily of the Nile, Agapanthus umbellatus, Lavender African Lily, lavender, white, photo, image, pic, pics (African lily; syn. Agapanthus umbellatus) is a member of the family Alliaceae and a native of the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.

It has a short stem bearing a tuft of long, narrow, arching leaves 10-35 cm long and 1-2 cm broad, and a central flower stalk 25-60 cm tall, ending in an umbel of 20-30 bright blue, funnel-shaped flowers, each flower 2.5-5 cm diameter.


It was introduced to Europe at the close of the 17th century as a handsome greenhouse plant, and is hardy outdoors in the south of England and Ireland if protected from severe frosts. The plants are easy to cultivate and (in areas that have winter) are generally grown in large pots or tubs that can be protected from frost.

Several cultivars are known, such as 'Albus' (with white flowers), 'Sapphire' (dark blue flowers), 'Aureus' (leaves striped with yellow), and 'Variegatus' (leaves almost entirely white with a few green bands). There are also double-flowered and larger- and smaller-flowered cultivars.

During the summer they require plenty of water and are very effective on the margins of lakes or by running streams, where they thrive. They may be propagated from offsets or by dividing the rootstock in early spring or autumn.

Avaiable from April to December

Agapanthus africanus, African Lily, Lily of the Nile, Agapanthus umbellatus, Blue African Lily, photo, image, pic, pics

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Anconitum, Monkshood, Wolfsbane photoAconitum (Monkshood, African Boxwood, Myrsine, Wolfsbane)

Chivalry, beware, a deadly foe is near

Cool-toned, blue-colored hooded flowers borne on erect spikes reaching up to 4 feet tall are the hallmarks of monkshood, formally known as Aconitum napellus. A member of the Ranunculaceae family, monkshood is a cousin of the delphinium, a familiar garden flower. Monkshood is sometimes referred to as wolfsbane.

Availability and Vase Life
April through October.
5-10 days.

Care and Handling
It is extremely toxic, so florists and consumers should wash their hands thoroughly after handling.

Design Uses
A strong line flower that works well in vertical arrangements.

Colors: Blue

Aconitum, Monkshood, African Boxwood, Myrsine, Wolfsbane, Photo, © Hal Horwitz/CORBIS

Aconitum (known as aconite, monkshood, or wolfsbane) is a genus of flowering plant belonging to the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). There are over 250 species of Aconitum.

These herbaceous perennials are chiefly natives of the mountainous parts of the northern hemisphere, growing in damp soils on mountain meadows. Their dark green leaves lack stipules. They are palmate or deeply palmately lobed with 5–7 segments. Each segment again is 3-lobed with coarse sharp teeth. The leaves have a spiral or alternate arrangement. The lower leaves have long petioles.

These are handsome plants, the tall, erect stem being crowned by racemes of large and eye-catching blue, purple, white, yellow or pink zygomorphic flowers with numerous stamens. They are distinguishable by having one of the five petaloid sepals (the posterior one), called the galea, in the form of a cylindrical helmet; hence the English name monkshood. There are 2–10 petals, in the form of nectaries. The two upper petals are large. They are placed under the hood of the calyx and are supported on long stalks. They have a hollow spur at their apex, containing the nectar. The other petals are small or lack completely. The 3–5 carpels are partially fused at the base.

The fruit is a follicle.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Achillea YarrowAchillea (Yarrow)

Achillea, commonly known as yarrow, is named for the mythological Greek god Achilles, who is said to have used some of this plant's more than 100 species for medicinal purposes. Today, yarrow's blooms populate garden walks and floral designs alike, while herbalists continue to use the plant for its fever-reducing, skin-cleansing and wound-healing properties.

Availability and Vase Life
February through September.
4-7 days.

Design Uses
An interesting addition to mixed summer arrangements. Yarrow dries easily and is long lasting for use in dried designs.

Colors: Yellow, white, pink, red.

Grasshopper on an Yarrow
Achillea is a genus of about 85 flowering plants, in the family Asteraceae, commonly referred to as yarrow. They occur in Europe and temperate areas of Asia. A few grow in North America. These plants typically have frilly, hairy, aromatic leaves.

These plants show large, flat clusters of small flowers at the top of the stem. These flowers can be white, yellow, orange, pink or red. A number of species are popular garden plants.

The genus was named for the Greek mythological character Achilles. According to the Iliad, Achilles' soldiers used yarrow to treat wounds, hence some of its common names such as allheal and bloodwort.

Achillea species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species - see list of Lepidoptera which feed on Achillea.