Drama maritima is blooming

white flower

Drama maritima, commonly called Maritime squill or Sea squill is found in the Asparagaceae family

Drimia maritima, commonly known as Sea Squill is found in the Asparagaceae family and the subfamily Scilloideae.  Sea Squill grows from a very large bulb. It is native to southwestern Eurasia, and north African coastal regions, mainly along the Mediterranean Sea.  This large bulb sends ups 8 to 10 leaves in the spring, and by fall these large, leathery, linear leaves die back.  At that point, the bulb then produces a tall spike-like racemose inflorescence (blooming first from the bottom upwards).

The Tucker greenhouse Sea Squill is located in the hallway to the right of the entrance doors right before entering the north greenhouse.

Carissa grandiflora smells divine

Carissa grandiflora

Carissa grandiflora, commonly called Natal Plum, and found in the Apocynaceae family is a native of South Africa.  Stop by the Tucker greenhouse, enter the Desert room, and immediately smell the Natal Plum’s perfumed scent……it’s lovely.  This plant is quite drought tolerant.  The Tucker greenhouse specimen has never produced any plums, but I’ve learned that they are edible.

Like most members of the Apocynaceae, or Dogbane family, the Natal Plum has white, sticky sap that can be toxic. The plant itself can grow to heights of 5.5 meters, and it has double-pronged thorns almost 5cm in length.

Balloon flowers in full bloom

Platycodon gradiflorus, commonly called Balloon flower is found in the Campanulaceae family.  Balloon flowers get their name from the shape of their unopened buds.Balloonflower1

This unopened flower bud looks a little bit like a balloon.  As the bud develops and the flower eventually opens, you’ll see five purple petals in a bell-shaped or campanulate flower shape.  You’ll also see an anther tube through which the style grows before spreading apart (plunger pollination).

balloon2

As the style elongates through the anther tube, it gets covered with pollen and the five light-colored anthers lay prostrate against the petals or corolla.

ballon3

Eventually, the style opens up into a five-branched stigma.

ballon4

 

“What are all of those those yellow flowers?”

yellow flowers

Helianthus mollis or Ashy sunflower is found in the Asteraceae family.  These dense heads are loaded with pollinators right now.

Helianthus mollis, commonly called Ashy or Downy sunflower is a predominant species in the Tucker Mini-Prairie, and it has been blooming for weeks now.  This plant belongs in the Asteraceae or Daisy family, one of the largest plant families on earth.  The root system of this plant is rhizomatous, allowing it to spread uncontrollably underground.  It can spread very aggressively, and its root system exudes allelopathic chemicals that can inhibit the growth of other plants surrounding it. Common habitats for this plant are dry to mesic prairies, sand prairies, rocky glades, & roadsides.  This plant would take over this tiny patch of ground called the Tucker Mini-Prairie if we didn’t constantly cut it back and remove seed heads.

Lots of different types of pollinators visit the flowers of the Ashy sunflower. Primarily bees visit the flowers for nectar or pollen.  Goldfinches are partial to the seeds of this plant.  Two caterpillars of the butterflies Chlosyne nycteis (Silvery Checkerspot) and Chlosyne gorgone (Gorgone Checkerspot) feed on its leaves.