Sunday, October 10, 2010

The BEST Zauschneria

I am not always a diehard, sticking to my guns no matter what. But I still call shooting stars Dodecatheon (even though I know they are really primroses) and zauschnerias may really be fireweeds (not a bad name for them) but I figure if hummingbirds know the difference, so might we...So I persist in calling this Zauschneria septentrionale.

I am always amazed there are not more zauschnerias planted in Denver. Plant Select has championed Zauschneria garrettii, which blooms in June, July and August but is pretty tattered by now. It is undoubtedly the toughest and hardiest...and many years the later blooming californica and arizonica are often frosted...but Zauschneria septentrionale never disappoints. This terribly underappreciated plant comes from northern California, and possibly Oregon. It generally comes into bloom in August, but it is still blazing away in mid October this year (I just took this picture last Friday in the Rock Alpine Garden at Denver Botanic Gardens.) I think I got my plant from Carman's wonderful nursery in Los Gatos almost 30 years ago, and it has grown there contentedly ever since. The silvery white foliage is decorative long before the flowers open, but with its wonderful bloom (and tolerance of many garden soils and conditions) I would rate this plant very high indeed. Don't you agree?


  1. aren't the Zauschnerias really a Fuschia relative? beautiful pics!

  2. Thank you for the compliment: point and shoot cameras work well in a point and shoot garden like DBG! Fuchsias and zauschnerias are both in the Onagraceae, but not terribly closely allied cladistically: they have evolved a similar look due to hummingbird pollination. Zauschnerias, as I alluded, have been lumped with Epilobium by no less than Peter Raven, so botanists have marched in locked step out of deference. I suspect Raven had good reasons for doing so: no doubt zauschnerias are just tubular flowered, scarlet, xeric fireweeds. But they are also a natural group that calls for distinction (and what are generic names for? Technically they are a subgenus, but I hate lumping unnecessarily, just as I hate the current splitting of a natural group like aster: why not make all those silly new genera SUBgenera, and quit messin' with our minds?) More current pix of zauschies at:

  3. Here, here! Splitters rule! In a world where appearances sell, gardeners profit from all that taxonomy can muster.

  4. Not just taxonomy, but let's not forget cultivarization: ten thousand (each) of Hemerocallis, Lilacs, Bearded Iris, Porophyllum Saxifrage, Cattleya Orchids (to name just a few burdened groups) and let's not forget snowdrops can't be too many!

  5. Not the last word by any means, but:
    Hemerocallis cvs.: 5500 named
    Lilac: 2000+ cvs.
    Bearded Iris: 63,000+ since 1950; some gardens have more than 2000 cvs.
    Cattleya: 250,000 orchid cvs.; many intergeneric hybrids with Cattleya
    Snowdrops: 70 spp.; 500+ cvs.


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