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Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Flower You'll Never See in a Florist Shop

My roomate picked a big bouquet of these one morning out on a walk.......Beautiful, like a lavender, purple dandelion kind of flower. Somewhere deep in my memory bank I knew the latin name for them was tragopogon. Don't ask me how I knew this. I just knew....but I didn't know much else about it. Just it's funny latin name.

The roomate said it was growing everywhere. Funny, I didn't remember seeing them everywhere. And I've lived here a while.

So I thought we'd just watch them for a while.

Well, lo and behold, shortly after lunchtime, they looked like this....all closed up. No wonder you never see them in a flower shop. They hardly last the morning. Except next day, they were wide open again.

Definitely intrigued, I went to my native plant guru, the women whom I believe has written the definitve book for Northwest native plants, the little woman pictured above, Rhoda Whittlesey who worked for Campfire Girls at Tryon Creek State Park near Portland. (completely aside, but I think Rhoda's wearing an Ethiopian cross necklace similiar to ones we've had in the store - I bet there's a story there.)

So here's what I learned.....common name salsify or oyster plant...."don't look for blooms after noon, for their tightly closed buds will be lost in the grasses in which they grow." Wow, that's an interesting strategy for a plant to camouflage itself by closing up it's flower. I wonder what it's hiding from?....plus, and this is exciting..."roots are eaten as parsnips", the name "says raw roots and oyster taste alike." Could it really be so?


  1. Yup, she's had the Ethiopian cross since the 60's, a relative sent it from Ethiopia

  2. PS, Rhoda did volunteer at Tryon Creek but she began to write the book while she was "Nature Lady" at Camp Wekio - a day camp formerly owned by Campfire.