Herbaceous plants of Virginia

Christmas FernWritten by Mary Free, Certified Master Gardener

Herbaceous Plants

As annual flowers succumb to freezing temperatures and many perennials enter a dormant period, one green plant still covers the ground in the woodlands and shade gardens: Polystichum acrostichoides. Also known as Christmas fern, its graceful, finely textured fronds often are used as a seasonal decoration.

An eastern US native, Christmas fern grows in a circular clump with its arching fronds reaching 1’-2’ high and wide. Although it prefers part shade and moist, well-drained soil, it can tolerate more sun with enough moisture as well as drier soils in full-shade. For year-round interest, grow this fairly low-maintenance fern in a woodland or Japanese garden, under trees, en masse, as contrast to shade bed perennials or for erosion control.

P02 ChristmasWoody Plants

Now that deciduous trees are bare (except for those, like some oaks, hornbeam and beech, with marcescent foliage—dead leaves that remain on the branches through winter), the conifers and hollies that were the backdrops of summer take center stage. Clothed in varied hues of green, their scaly, needlelike, smooth or glossy foliage is accented with cones or berries. However, do not dismiss so readily the defoliated deciduous tree or shrub. The aesthetic quality of its bark (as well as that of conifers) is often overlooked in favor of foliage, flower and fruit. Yet, for one quarter of the year or more, its bark and shape are on conspicuous display.

P03 ChristmasThough a tree may exhibit its beauty through flower and foliage, its character is revealed with its bark. Who cannot marvel at bark and branches that are smooth or furrowed or peeling or shiny or colorful or mottled or striped or contorted? For a specimen tree prominently featured in the landscape, the quality of its bark may be especially important to ensure four-season interest. So when selecting a new tree for your property, in addition to a tree’s habit (cold-hardiness, heat and drought tolerance, size, rate of growth) and the site conditions (soil type and ph, moisture, sun/shade), be sure to take into account the texture, color and shape not only of its foliage and flowers but of its trunk and branches as well.

Some trees/shrubs to consider for their unusual or stunning bark:

• Those with smooth bark. Natives: Carpinus caroliniana, American hornbeam (blue-gray bark remains smooth even as tree ages); Fagus grandifolia, * American beech; and Hamamelis virginiana, witch-hazel (smooth gray to gray-brown bark; yellow, spider-like flowers mid to late fall). Non-natives: Fagus sylvatica, European beech. (According to Virginia Tech, it is it better adapted to Virginia growing conditions than the native American beech.)

P04 Christmas P05 Fagus Christmas Fern P02 Christmas
The Book Center, University of Maryland Herbaceous Plants of Maryland
Book (The Book Center, University of Maryland)

Info on Talinum

2003-07-03 13:22:27 by pro

Information I gleaned from the USDA plant database: plants.usda.gov/index.html Enter Scientific Name as Talinum
Talinum Adans. - gives you all varieties and maps of where they are present - click on a map to get information for that variety
- Talinum calycinum or parviflorum - most common varieties present in the central states from Texas to Minnesota/Nebraska.
- all varieties native to U.S.
Some common names:
Fameflower
Sunbright
Jewels of Opar (not common but a cool name, no?)
- Herbaceous Perennial, Shrub or Subshrub
- Native to the United States
- Talinum calycinum had a botanical illustration which showed a rhizhome (like an iris)
- Purslane family like Lewisia and Portulaca
- I doubt it is invasive. As a...


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