Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemums, sometimes called mums or chrysanths, are flowering plants of the genus Chrysanthemum in the family Asteraceae. They are native to Asia and northeastern Europe. Most species originate from East Asia and the center of diversity is in China. Countless horticultural varieties and cultivars exist.

Over 140 cultivars of chrysanthemum have gained the Royal Horticultural Society‘s Award of Garden Merit (confirmed 2017).[11]

Chrysanthemums are divided into two basic groups, garden hardy and exhibition. Garden hardy mums are new perennials capable of wintering in most northern latitudes. Exhibition varieties are not usually as sturdy. Garden hardies are defined by their ability to produce an abundance of small blooms with little if any mechanical assistance, such as staking, and withstanding wind and rain. Exhibition varieties, though, require staking, overwintering in a relatively dry, cool environment, and sometimes the addition of night lights.

The exhibition varieties can be used to create many amazing plant forms, such as large disbudded blooms, spray forms, and many artistically trained forms, such as thousand-bloom, standard (trees), fans, hanging baskets, topiary, bonsai, and cascades.

Chrysanthemum blooms are divided into 10 different bloom forms by the US National Chrysanthemum Society, Inc., which is in keeping with the international classification system. The bloom forms are defined by the way in which the ray and disk florets are arranged. Chrysanthemum blooms are composed of many individual flowers (florets), each one capable of producing a seed. The disk florets are in the center of the bloom head, and the ray florets are on the perimeter. The ray florets are considered imperfect flowers, as they only possess the female reproductive organs, while the disk florets are considered perfect flowers, as they possess both male and female reproductive organs.

Irregular incurves are bred to produce a giant head called an ogiku. The disk florets are concealed in layers of curving ray florets that hang down to create a ‘skirt’. Regular incurves are similar, but usually with smaller blooms and a dense, globular form. Intermediate incurve blooms may have broader florets and a less densely flowered head.

In the reflex form, the disk florets are concealed and the ray florets reflex outwards to create a mop-like appearance. The decorative form is similar to reflex blooms, but the ray florets usually do not radiate at more than a 90° angle to the stem.

The pompon form is fully double, of small size, and very globular in form. Single and semidouble blooms have exposed disk florets and one to seven rows of ray florets. In the anemone form, the disk florets are prominent, often raised and overshadowing the ray florets. The spoon-form disk florets are visible and the long, tubular ray florets are spatulate. In the spider form, the disk florets are concealed, and the ray florets are tube-like with hooked or barbed ends, hanging loosely around the stem. In the brush and thistle variety, the disk florets may be visible.

In Japan, a form of bonsai chrysanthemum was developed over the centuries. The cultivated flower has a lifespan of about 5 years and can be kept in miniature size. Another method is to use pieces of dead wood and the flower grows over the back along the wood to give the illusion from the front that the miniature tree blooms.

Succulent plant

In botany, succulent plants, also known as succulents, are plants that have some parts that are more than normally thickened and fleshy, usually to retain water in arid climates or soil conditions. The word “succulent” comes from the Latin word sucus, meaning juice, or sap. Succulent plants may store water in various structures, such as leaves and stems. Some definitions also include roots, thus geophytes that survive unfavorable periods by dying back to underground storage organs may be regarded as succulents. In horticultural use, the term “succulent” is sometimes used in a way which excludes plants that botanists would regard as succulents, such as cacti. Succulents are often grown as ornamental plants because of their striking and unusual appearance.

Christmas Cactus

Plants are offered for sale under a variety of common names. The earliest English common name was “Christmas cactus”. In Europe, where plants are largely produced for sale in the period before Christmas, this remains the most widely used common name in many languages for cultivars of all groups (e.g. Weihnachtskaktus in German,[22] cactus de Noël in French,[23] and cacto de Navidad in Spanish[24]). This is also the name used in Canada.[25] In the United States, where plants are produced for the Thanksgiving holiday in November, the name “Thanksgiving cactus” is used; “Christmas cactus” may then be restricted to cultivars of the Buckleyi Group,[26] particularly the very old cultivars such as ‘Buckleyi’.[25] The name “crab cactus” (referring to the clawed ends of the stems) is also used for the Truncata Group.[27] “link cactus” is another common name, describing the way that the stems of the genus as a whole are made up of linked segments.[25] The name “chain cactus” is common in New Zealand, and may also refer to Hatiora species

Sunflower

History of the Amazing Sunflower
Close-up of a single
blooming sunflower
in a field of sunflowers The story of sunflower (Helianthus Annuus ) is indeed amazing. The wild sunflower is native to North America but commercialization of the plant took place in Russia. It was only recently that the sunflower plant returned to North America to become a cultivated crop. But it was the American Indian who first domesticated the plant into a single headed plant with a variety of seed colors including black, white, red, and black/white striped.

American Indian Uses
Sunflower was a common crop among American Indian tribes throughout North America. Evidence suggests that the plant was cultivated by American Indians in present-day Arizona and New Mexico about 3000 BC. Some archaeologists suggest that sunflower may have been domesticated before corn.

Sunflower was used in many ways throughout the various American Indian tribes. Seed was ground or pounded into flour for cakes, mush or bread. Some tribes mixed the meal with other vegetables such as beans, squash, and corn. The seed was also cracked and eaten for a snack. There are references of squeezing the oil from the seed and using the oil in making bread.

Non-food uses include purple dye for textiles, body painting and other decorations. Parts of the plant were used medicinally ranging from snakebite to other body ointments. The oil of the seed was used on the skin and hair. The dried stalk was used as a building material. The plant and the seeds were widely used in ceremonies.

European Developments
Cloth bag and small packages
of sunflower from early century
time period This exotic North American plant was taken to Europe by Spanish explorers some time around 1500. The plant became widespread throughout present-day Western Europe mainly as an ornamental, but some medicinal uses were developed. By 1716, an English patent was granted for squeezing oil from sunflower seed.

Sunflower became very popular as a cultivated plant in the 18th century. Most of the credit is given to Peter the Great. The plant was initially used as an ornamental, but by 1769 literature mentions sunflower cultivated by oil production. By 1830, the manufacture of sunflower oil was done on a commercial scale. The Russian Orthodox Church increased its popularity by forbidding most oil foods from being consumed during Lent. However, sunflower was not on the prohibited list and therefore gained in immediate popularity as a food.

By the early 19th century, Russian farmers were growing over 2 million acres of sunflower. During that time, two specific types had been identified: oil-type for oil production and a large variety for direct human consumption. Government research programs were implemented. V. S. Pustovoit developed a very successful breeding program at Krasnodar. Oil contents and yields were increased significantly. Today, the world’s most prestigious sunflower scientific award is known as The Pustovoit Award.

Sunflower Back to North America
By the late 19th century, Russian sunflower seed found its way into the US. By 1880, seed companies were advertising the ‘Mammoth Russian’ sunflower seed in catalogues. This particular seed name was still being offered in the US in 1970, nearly 100 years later. A likely source of this seed movement to North America may have been Russian immigrants. The first commercial use of the sunflower crop in the US was silage feed for poultry. In 1926, the Missouri Sunflower Growers’ Association participated in what is likely the first processing of sunflower seed into oil.

Canada started the first official government sunflower breeding program in 1930. The basic plant breeding material utilized came from Mennonite (immigrants from Russia) gardens. Acreage spread because of oil demand. By 1946, Canadian farmers built a small crushing plant. Acreage spread into Minnesota and North Dakota. In 1964, the Government of Canada licensed the Russian cultivar called Peredovik. This seed produced high yields and high oil content. Acreage increased in the US with commercial interest in the production of sunflower oil. Sunflower was hybridized in the middle seventies providing additional yield and oil enhancement as well as disease resistance.

Back to Europe
U.S. acreage escalated in the late 70’s to over 5 million because of strong European demand for sunflower oil. This European demand had been stimulated by Russian exports of sunflower oil in the previous decades. During this time, animal fats such as beef tallow for cooking were negatively impacted by cholesterol concerns. However, the Russians could no longer supply the growing demand, and European companies looked to the fledging U.S. industry. Europeans imported sunflower seed that was then crushed in European mills. Western Europe continues to be a large consumer of sunflower oil today, but depends on its own production. U.S. exports to Europe of sunflower oil or seed for crushing is quite small.

Summary
The native North American sunflower plant has finally come back home after a very circuitous route. It is the Native Americans and the Russians who completed the early plant genetics and the North Americans who put the finishing touches on it in the form of hybridization. Those early ancestors would quickly recognize their contributions to today’s commercial sunflower if they were here.

 

The reference for this summary was taken from: Albert A. Schneiter, ed. Sunflower Technology and Production, (The American Society of Agronomy No. 35, 1997) 1-19.

Ranunculus

Brilliantly colored flowers are ‘ranunculus‘ chief attraction, and they are indeed special. They most often come in multiple layers of delicate, crepe paper–thin petals, looking like an origami masterwork. Ranunculus (R. asiaticus) excel in southern and western gardens, and make terrific container plants everywhere. They also make long-lasting cut flowers. Bulbs are widely available in Fall at retail nurseries in mild-winter climates; in Fall and early spring from mail-order catalogs.

Ranunculus leaves, grass green and vaguely celery-like, grow in a mound 6 to 12 inches across. Flowers on 12- to 18-inch stems emerge in March from fall-planted bulbs, June and July from spring-planted bulbs; they last up to six weeks. On the most common type, the Tecolote strain, flowers are mostly fully double, 3 to 6 inches wide, and available in bicolored picotee, gold, pastel mix, pink, red, rose, salmon, sunset orange, white, and yellow. The less common Bloomingdale strain is shorter, to 10 inches, with pale orange, pink, red, yellow, and white double flowers.

Carnation

The carnation, also known by the nickname ‘carn,’ has been cultivated for centuries for its ruffled blooms, favoured for its fragrance and hardiness.

The scientific name Dianthus caryophyllus contains the Greek word ‘dianthus’ which means “flower of the gods,’ and the original pink blooms of the flower led to its common name which is said to mean ‘flesh toned.’

Others believe carnation gets its name from the word ‘coronation’ or the Greek word for ‘flower garlands’ which is ‘corone.’

This Eurasian plant has a spice scent, and is also called the Clove Pink or Gillyflower, and can be found in numerous colours ranging from pink to purple-red and are said the symbolize love, fascination and distinction.

As legend has it, pink carnations were said to have appeared below the Virgin Mary’s tears as Jesus carried the cross and as a result, the pink variety symbolizes a mother’s love.

This connection between the carnation and Mary was immortalized in the 1475 painting “The Madonna with the Carnation” by Leonardo da Vinci. It is housed in Munich, Germany as part of a collection of famous works and is also called the “Munich Madonna.”

Carnations carried the meanings of love, fascination and distinction.

Other meanings attached to carnation colours include passionate love (red), rejection or distain (yellow), innocence and steadfastness (white) and whimsical and capricious (purple).

Feature of the Month-Zygocactus

The word “Zygocactus” is often used to refer to this plant, but merely describes the manner in which the joints are connected and is of no taxonomical importance. Zygocacti are actually Schlumbergera hybrids( correct botanical name) between Schlumbergera truncatus and Schlumbergera bridgesii, and are also known as Schlumbergera X ‘Buckleyii’ .

Schlumbergera truncatus blooms closer to Thanksgiving while Schlumbergera bridgesii blooms closer to Christmas, but through hybridization there is now much overlapping of blooming times. Schlumbergera are epiphytes (tree-dwelling) originating in montainous rainforests of Brazil , and as such, enjoy perfect drainage.

Reproducing this culture will help to ensure the health of your plant. Zygos require a slightly acidic, very porous soil with excellent drainage that never allows the plants to become waterlogged. Zygos should be watered thoroughly when soil surface is dry to the touch, but it is best that the lower portion of the soil is never allowed to dry completely.

Excellent as hanging basket plant on a sheltered patio, or can be brought indoors in a bright area with excellent airflow.

Enjoy a profusion of butterfly-like flowers in a multitude of colors from late October through early January.

Feature of the Month-Asters

Asters are beautiful perennials that are found wild in North America and southern Europe. The genus Aster includes some 600 species of widely distributed flowering plants in the family Asteraceae. Asters are also called as Starworts, Michaelmas Daisies, or Frost Flowers. Asters are found chiefly in North America, with some species extending into South America; others are distributed throughout Europe and Asia. The word Aster is of Greek derivation and refers to the Starlike flowers that can be white, red, pink, purple, lavender and blue, mostly with yellow centers.

The genus Aster is now generally restricted to the old world species, with Aster amellus being the type species of the genus (and of the family Asteraceae). The new world species have now been reclassified in the genera Almutaster, Canadanthus, Doellingeria, Eucephalus, Eurybia, Ionactis, Oligoneuron, Oreostemma, Sericocarpus and Symphyotrichum, but still the new world species are also widely referred to as Asters in the horticultural trade.

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Feature of the Month-Paperwhites

Paperwhites belong to a group of Daffodils that is somewhat hardy for us, but are more easily grown in a pot or vase indoors. Their species name comes from the word papyrus and aceus; meaning paper-like. The Paperwhite is a perennial bulbous plant native to the western Mediterranean region, from Greece to Portugal plus Morocco and Algeria. The species is considered naturalized in the Azores, Corsica, Texas, California and Louisiana.

Their large clusters of pure white flowers arch above graceful, blue-green foliage, and their perfume fills a room with fragrance. Paperwhites require no preparation and are foolproof. When bulbs are planted in early December, they will flower in 4 to 6 weeks with seldom a miss making them a popular indoor plant for winter and the holiday season. Unlike other narcissus, paper whites do not require a chilling period, so forcing them is as easy as putting the bulbs in water and waiting.