Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Herbal Flowers #3

Echinacea spp. or purple coneflower produces beautiful flowers for any garden including the herb garden and butterfly garden. Native to the Midwest prairies, its medicinal roots were first used by native American Indians and it is considered today a major herbal immuno-stimulant. Butterflies love it as a nectar plant.

Besides the many species of true oreganos (Oreganums) there are a number of other oregano tasting plants which use the common name oregano and are often substituted for the true oreganos in culinary applications. One such herb is Cuban oregano, Plectranthus amboinicus. Originally classified as a coleus and named Coleus amboinicus, it comes in a plain green form as well as several differently variegated forms, one of which is pictured above. Plants in the Coleus and Plectranthus genera are part of the Lamiaceae (mint) family and the flowers are typical of that family. The real and year-round beauty of this plant, though, comes from its variegated leaves.

Many customers at my herb farm express surprise when they see mature rosemary plants covered in flowers. Yes, rosemary does flower and the flowers come in many colors: pink, white, light lavender, light blue and deep blue. These flower colors are reflected in many of the varietal names: Majorca Pink, Alba, Tuscan Blue, etc.

Pictured is a new variety of rosemary called Haifa which I loved right away. It's a very low-growing prostrate variety with dark glossy leaves and a kind of twisty growth habit. I loved this variety even more when it flowered. It had the largest flowers I have seen on any of my rosemarys and the stems were just solid with them. Fantastic.

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