Monday, July 21, 2014

Blackberry Lilies

Blackberry lilies (Belamcanda chinensis) is a perennial that spreads by both rhizome and seed. Often called leopard lily because of it's freckled blooms, it is now in a controversy about its scientific name. It is not a lily, and has recently been moved into the iris family and it's new name there is Iris domestica (the specific epithet chinensis had already been taken in the Iris family). Sometimes they are called candy lilies which I believe was a variety developed and sold by Park's Seed long ago.

These plants form a clump that increases in size as years go by, and the larger the clump, the more attractive it is. Many people grow them solely for the seed pods which open in late summer to reveal clusters of black shiny seed (hence the blackberry name).The seed hang on pretty well and can be cut for use in dried arrangements. I  like the seed, but also enjoy the flowers. Each flower lasts only one day, but the next day, more flowers open.
The spent flowers twist into attractive adornments as you can see in the above picture. The large seed pods that are seen there also will soon put on a show of their own. The blue-green leaf fans can be up to 2 feet tall, with the bloom stalks standing another foot above the foliage. The flower colors range over the orange yellow pallet with some purple thrown in for good measure. As with any seed grown plant, you can never be sure that it will look exactly like the parent, but it will resemble the parent. The solid yellow flower is said to belong to a different species, but that seems kind of iffy to me.
 Blackberry lilies are easy to grow from seed and if started early enough, will flower the first year, and many years afterward. They are tough warriors and require only a minimum of care. I do not plant mine in the flower bed, because they don't require the care flowers in the bed get. I plant them out in the edges of the field and roadside and let them go their own way. I have some that still live and bloom in spite of being rundown by the bush hog countless times. I read that they don't do well in clay, which gave me a hardy laugh. Apparently the writer has not spoken with any lately.

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