|Arisarum proboscideum Family: Araceae
Common name: mouse plant; mouse tail plant
|Description: An herbaceous, tuberous-rooted, ground-hugging woodland perennial with glossy green, arrowhead-shaped leaves. Flowers are maroon and white with a unique tail-like tip which can stretch to 6 inches (15 cm). The whole floral effect is of a the back end of a mouse diving underground with its tail waving in the air.
Special Notes: Native to Spain and Italy, this plant is related to Arisaema triphyllum (jack-in-the-pulpit) which is native to eastern North America. It is winter hardy to USDA Zone 7…Zone 6 if given some protection. This is a spring ephemeral, appearing in early spring and disappearing below ground in the heat of summer.
Flowers are complete… having both male and female sexual organs. Fertilization is accomplished when the flowers attract small fungus gnats which subsequently become trapped within the flower and, in their struggle to escape, they inadvertently spread pollen from the male organs to the female.
Relatively drought tolerant once established. Pest and disease resistant.
In our Zone 7a garden: First signs of emergence start in the first two weeks of spring with tiny green spires of furled leaves appearing. Flower stems and buds show up shortly after. Bloom time begins about the second week of April and lasts remarkably well through to about the end of June. As soon as the heat really begins to ramp up, the whole clump disappears until the following spring.
I should mention…my one clump of mouse plant is situated in almost complete shade. Sun only reaches it in late winter and early spring and number of duration days only extends until the surrounding herbaceous perennials appear and leaf out and the chestnut tree leaves reach out to full canopy limit.
Great Plant Pick (GPP) 2008
Posted on April 2, 2020
|Whitefly Family: Aleyrodidae
Host plant(s): multiple species
Adult size: varies by species, but generally –
Description & Life Cycle: Whiteflies are not true flies. They are more closely related to aphids, mealybugs and scale. This puts them in the order of Hemiptera rather than in the order Diptera with the true flies. The name “whitefly” comes from the white wax covering on the wings and body of the adults.
Females lay 200 to 400 eggs in groups of 30 to 40. Eggs hatch in about a week into flattened nymphs with tiny legs. These crawlers, as they are called, will wander around the plant before settling in one spot and inserting their mouth part into the plant to start feeding on its sap. This crawler stays in one place through the next three instar stages…growing larger and losing its tiny legs as it grows larger. At the end of the 4th instar stage, the nymph enters the pupa stage, although technically it does not go through a true complete metamorphosis. Adults emerge to mate and live about a month.
Some adult whitefly species have distinctive markings on their wings but many have no markings. In the nymph stage, colour can be black with a white fringe, transparent yellow or white depending on species.
Whiteflies typically overwinter on plant debris and in branch crevices…although I could not find any mention in which life cycle stage this occurs.
Special Notes: There are over 1500 species of whitefly, most of which will feed on only one or a few species of plants. All whitefly species are sap-sucking feeders and a few are responsible for transporting viruses from plant to plant. They are difficult to identify in their specific species designation but are easily recognizable by the cloud of white which will erupt when an infested plant is disturbed. Another indication of a whitefly problem is sticky patches on the upper side of leaves caused by the honeydew excretions from whiteflies feeding in the undersides of leaves higher up on the plant. Another clue can be black sooty mold on the upper side of leaves which develops on the honeydew. While this looks unsightly, it rarely does any serious harm to the plant.
Remedial Actions: Whiteflies have many natural enemies in the garden including ladybugs, lacewings, spiders and predator bees as long as you do not use chemical sprays. These sprays are also harmful to beneficial insects.
Another solution is to use yellow sticky traps…although these will catch beneficial insects as well as the pests.
Best remedy of all is to provide appropriate water and nutrients to your plants to guard against pest infestation. Healthy plants are much, much better at thwarting pests from attacking them than those plants which are struggling because they are underfed or underwatered.
Posted on February 26, 2020
|Cyclamen coum Family: Primulaceae
Common name: Persian violet, eastern sowbread
|Description: Tuberous perennial with round or heart-shaped dark green leaves which may have some silver or grey markings. Flower colour ranges from white through shades of pink with darker staining at the base of the petals. This is a spring ephermeral…flowering from December through March, depending on region, and going dormant through the summer.
Special Notes: Native to the Mediterranean, this delightful winter-blooming perennial does well as an understory specimen in rhododendron, maple, birch, Douglas fir and western red cedar plantings.
Self-seeding, this plant naturalizes nicely with the help of ants who are attracted to the sugary coating on the seeds. Tiny seedlings start to appear in late fall. Once the plants are established, they are drought tolerant.
Generally, disease- and pest-resistant; deer resistant.
In our Zone 7a garden: I have a slowly increasing patch of Cyclamen coum flowers underneath the Acer campestre, (European hedge maple), which are purely delightful when they come into flower in the middle of winter for us.
This bed in the garden landscape is a difficult one due to the maple roots sucking up all of the nutrients…leaving little for the other plants residing there. Because of this, I am always impressed by the plants who manage to survive such harsh treatment.
Awards: Named by the Royal Horticultural Society as one of the top 200 plants of the last 200 years.
Caution: Toxic to dogs and cats if ingested.
Posted on February 19, 2020