plants with grit

I’ve been reading Angela Duckworth’s book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.  There are plants that have grit, tenacity and staying power.  Andi Pettis, Director of Horticulture at The High Line, the first speaker at the Ecological Landscape Alliance Plant Conference talked about Tenacious Plants for Tough Places.  For those us who garden in places where grit is essential feature for plants we choose;  this blog is a list of plants Andi included in her talk and plants I was unfamiliar with and wanted to share.

Carex bromoides, brome-like sedge

Carex bromoides
The North American native (Canada south to Florida and west to Texas) Carex bromoides swept us off our feet! This delightful small evergreen sedge forms a 6″ tall x 30″ wide, delicate-textured patch of green hair-like foliage. Although it prefers moist to mucky wet soil, ours has fared beautifully in well amended compost. Carex bromoides is a favorite meal food for a number of butterfly and skipper caterpillars, wood ducks, grouse, and several songbirds, which in turn eliminate any need for fertilizers. We think you’ll really love Carex bromoides, either as a solitary specimen or in mass.  – from Plants Delight Nursery

Iris fulva, copper iris

Iris fulva
Terra cotta or copper colored irises appear in late spring atop flower scapes typically growing 2-3’ tall. Flowers are reportedly pollinated by hummingbirds. Sword-shaped, linear, bright green leaves. In New Orleans in March of 1821, John James Audubon painted a pair of parula warblers perching on the stem of a copper iris in a painting that became an entry in The Birds of North America.

Genus named for the Greek goddess of the rainbow.

Best grown in fertile, slightly acidic, consistently moist to wet soils in full sun. Tolerates part shade, particularly in the southern part of its growing range. Does well in wet clayey soils. May be grown in up to 6” of standing water. Grow in containers in water gardens. May benefit from winter protection in USDA Zone 5.

from the Missouri Botanical Garden

Iris domestica
Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Likes moist soils, but poorly-drained ones, particularly in winter, can be fatal. Clumps slowly expand by creeping rhizomes. May self-seed in optimum growing conditions which helps keep these somewhat short-lived perennials in the garden.

Iris domestica, commonly called blackberry lily or leopard lily, is an erect, rhizomatous perennial which typically grows 2-3′ tall. Lily-like, deep orange flowers (to 2″ across), heavily spotted with red dots, have 6 petal-like perianth segments. Flowers appear in early to-mid summer in sprays above the foliage on wiry, naked stems typically rising to 3′ (less frequently to 4′) tall. way to pear-shaped seed pods which split open when ripe (late summer), with each pod revealing a blackberry-like seed cluster, hence the common name of blackberry lily. Spotting on the flowers gives rise to the additional common name of leopard lily. Formerly known as Belamcanda chinensis.

Genus named for the Greek goddess of the rainbow.

Specific epithet means frequently used as a house plant or domesticated.
from Missouri Botanic Garden

Parthenium integrifolium, wild quinine

Parthenium integrifolium,
commonly called American feverfew, is a clump-forming, Missouri native perennial which occurs in dry soils on prairies, glades and rocky woods. Grows 3-4′ tall. Woolly-looking, white flower heads, each with 5 tiny ray flowers (1/12″ long), appear in broad, flat-topped, terminal corymbs from late spring to late summer. Leaves are aromatic, toothed and rough. Long-petioled basal leaves are much larger than stem leaves. Since the leaves of this species are in fact coarsely toothed, it remains an enigma as to why the plant was assigned the species name of integrifolium which means entire (i.e., margins lack lobes or teeth). Plant is also sometimes commonly called wild quinine. Former medicinal use as a diuretic.
Genus name comes from the Greek meaning virgin (only ray flowers are fertile).

Specific epithet means with an entire or uncut leaves but this species is coarsely toothed.
from Missouri Botanic Garden

allium obliquum, twisted leaf garlic

Allium ‘Obliquum”
Allium obliquum is native to Central Asia where it grows in meadows, scrub and on cliffs. It has soft yellow flowers that appear in summer. They last rather longer than most ball Alliums by sequentially opening new single flowers.
from pacific bulb society

Allium obliquum
from the

  • Other common nameslopsided onion
  • SynonymsAllium ramosum Jacq.
  • FamilyAlliaceae
  • GenusAllium are bulbous herbaceous perennials with a strong onion or garlic scent, linear, strap-shaped or cylindrical basal leaves and star-shaped or bell-shaped flowers in an umbel on a leafless stem
  • DetailsA. obliquum is a bulbous perennial with short rhizomes and narrow, stem-clasping, blue-green leaves. The yellow-green, ball-shaped flowers are about 2.5cm across and appear in mid-summer on twisty stems

Allium siculum subsp. dioscoridis, Sicilian honey garlic

Allium siculum subsp dioscoridis
Allium siculum, known as honey garlic,[4]Sicilian honey lilySicilian honey garlic, or Mediterranean bells, is a European and Turkish species of plants genus Allium. It is native to the regions around the Mediterranean and Black Seas, and grown in other regions as an ornamental and as a culinary herb.[1]
southern France including Corsica, and Italy (BasilicataAbruzzoUmbriaToscanaSicilySardinia),[5] growing in damp, shady woods. It has showy clusters of gracefully drooping bell-shaped blossoms produced in May to early June sitting atop a tall green stem, to 1.2 m in height. The florets (blossoms), suspended on long drooping pedicels, are cream colored with a maroon streak down each petal, have white flared tips, and are tinted green at the base. The blossoms are followed by decorative, erect seed pods in late summer. The blue-gray foliage is triangular in cross-section and strongly twisting along the length of the ascending leaves.[6][7] A penetrating, skunky odor is released when the plant is cut.

Erythronium ‘Pagoda’ Pagoda yellow dogtooth violet

Erythronium ‘Pagoda’
Commonly known as the Trout Lily or the Dogtooth Violet, Erythronium pagoda is a robust hybrid cross of Erythronium tuolumnense and Erythronium revolutum, species native to the U.S. west coast. Highly acclaimed, it was given the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. It yields lush, attractive ground level green foliage with variable garnet mottling and dark slender stems with one or more, pendant, fairy-cap shaped sulfur-yellow flowers with interior garnet-banded bases and yellow anthers. Its flowers are larger and grow taller than those of either of its parents.
Deer- and rodent-resistant,
Erythronium pagoda is best grown in moist, humus-rich, neutral pH, well-draining soil in full sun to partial shade. Unlike most bulbs, it can handle, and actually prefers soil with a little bit more moisture in the spring, but likes drier conditions over the summer.
A good naturalizer, if it’s happy where it’s planted and is left undisturbed, it naturalizes by bulb offsets (called bulbils: baby bulbs on the sides of the mother bulb you’ve planted) and occasionally by self-sowing seed. It’s terrific planted en masse in natural settings like sun-dappled woodlands, around shrubbery and in partial shade gardens. Its bulb is actually a pointed, fleshy corm.
from John Scheepers

Claytonia virginica spring beauty, spring beauty

Claytonia virginica,
commonly called spring beauty, is a delicate, much-beloved, native Missouri spring wildflower that typically occurs statewide in rich, moist woodlands and valleys, meadows, prairies and somewhat dry upland woods (Steyermark). It is a low-growing spring ephemeral that features clusters of star-like, five-petaled, white to light pink flowers (to ¾” wide) with pink veins and pink anthers. Flowers bloom in April atop thin stems rising 4-6” tall at bloom time. Narrow, linear, grass-like, dark green leaves (usually in pairs).

Foliage continues to grow after bloom and may eventually reach 9-12″ tall before  the leaves disappear in late spring as the plants go into dormancy.  Small, potato-lke underground tuberss are edible (chestnut like  flavor) and were in fact consumed by early Americans, but are time-consuming to collect in quantity sufficient for a meal.

Genus name honors John Clayton (1686-1773) who came to Virginia from England in 1705.

from Missouri Botanic Garden

Isanthus brachiatus, false penny royal

Isanthus brachiatus
False Pennyroyal, Fluxweed, Glade Bluecurls
This is one of many plants undergoing changes in classification.
False Pennyroyal is listed as Special concern, Endangered or Threatened in Ct. MA. Michigan and New Jersey.  It is rare in the remaining New England States where it can be found at all.

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