• The Plantsman’s Advent Calendar Day 20: Michauxia campanuloides

    So continuing with yesterday’s themes of ‘biennial’ and ‘absent from my garden,’ I thought I’d give a shout out to a really awesome plant that just surfaced on my radar a few seasons ago.

    Named for French royal botanist André Michaux, Michauxia campanuloides is a member of Campanulaceae, the bellflower family.  Now, I’m not hung up on every generic bellflower just because it has dangling, bell-shaped flowers (I gots Irids with tepals, yo).  But I do get hung up on Michauxia, not only because it dangles but because it’s anything but generic.  As it came into my view during a visit to Dancing Oaks Nursery last summer, I thought I’d come across a flowering ghost.  Eerily topping out at 5′ tall, these inflorescences drip pendent white flowers that look more wraith-like than floral.  I’d love to know why this particular plant was named in honor of Michaux, having a hunch it was credited with his name after one of his pre-American expeditions through the Middle East to Persia.  He was a character and one of the most significant botanists of his day.  Incidentally, his name is found as an epithet of several plants including Quercus michauxii, Lilum michauxii, and Carex michauxiana.

    But back to the plant.  How is something so creepy cool, so otherwise absent from modern gardens?  This native of Lebanon and Israel is hardy to Zone 5 (and ironically, like Anthriscus yesterday is often underrated in terms of hardiness), thrives in clay and rocky soils, loves full sun, freaks people out, and reseeds a little when it’s all over with.  How can we go wrong?  It’ll soon have a home in my garden.  Yours?

    {Can I just give a shout-out to the fine ladies at Annie’s Annuals who seriously keep the world going round with cool plants?  I don’t know how many times this month they’ve been credited as a source, but let’s all pick up the reigns here a little.  Though there’s nothing wrong with supporting  a great nursery like Annie’s, we really can’t expect them to keep the rest of us in supply of this stuff forever.  Let’s get some of these gems spread around!}

    Sources (updated 12/20):

    Annie’s Annuals

    Arrowhead Alpines

    Michauxia campanuloides, ©2011, Kelly D. Norris

    Michauxia campanuloides, ©2011, Kelly D. Norris

3 Responsesso far.

  1. Laura Deeter says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this plant and LOVE LOVE LOVE the place! Any plant with it’s reproductive bits so large and in your face has simply got to be admired!!!

  2. Kelly Norris says:

    May the spirit of Michaux thrive in more gardens! Spread the seeds across the lands!

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