Category Archives: flowers

Quiet Oxalis

We have a small plant in our yard that is very quiet and unobtrusive.

It started at the grocery store around St. Patrick’s Day a few years ago. There was one pathetic, droopy “shamrock” in a pot on display.

Of course, my son wanted it. He has inherited my tendency to be a sucker for underdog plants. We brought it home.

With some water and tender care, it survived. Eventually we determined that it’s scientific name is Oxalis, so it isn’t a true shamrock, which is a clover.

We planted it in the garden and eventually it died back in the summer. We didn’t really pay much attention, because everything dies in the summer here.

In the fall, we were pleasantly surprised when some tiny stems began to emerge again. We discovered that Oxalis plants go dormant.

Soon it was doing fine and even flowered.

Looks like our “shamrock” is actually a pink woodsorrel, Oxalis debilis.

Pink woodsorrel is introduced from Europe, were it can be weedy. Here in Arizona it sits quietly in a shady corner of the garden, not taking much care, only grabbing our attention once in awhile with these bright pink flowers. It has turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

Have you ever brought home a plant that surprised you?


Curly Endive Reveals Its Roots (So To Speak)

We planted some lettuce mix last fall. Not much came up, except this curly endive.

It was rather bitter and no one in our family really cared for it.

That’s why we didn’t really mind when it started to bolt, or go to flower.

Actually, we were glad it did flower, because it revealed its “roots” so to speak. Have you ever seen an endive flower?

Does this blue flower look familiar? This is the endive flower, but it looks like the flower of another plant.

It reminded us of the roadside weed called common chicory.

The plant we call curly endive is Cichorium endivia. The common roadside wildflower is Cichorium intybus, a member of the same genus.

Common chicory roots are used as a coffee substitute or additive. Its leaves can be used in salads as well, although they are also known to be bitter.

I will never look at endive in quite the same way now I know its relatives. What about you?


See Purdue for more information about common chicory.

Mother of Thousands in Flower

Have you ever seen a mother-of-thousands plant, or sometimes called alligator plant? In high school my Spanish teacher called hers a “sombrero plant” or Mexican hat plant.

Mother-of-thousands get their name from the fact they produce miniature young plants on the edges of their leaves. It is the type of plant that friends love to share, which is how we got ours. It is probably a Kalanchoe daigremontiana or a hybrid of that species.

Ours did something unexpected this year.

Yes, this is a mother-of-thousands flowering.

The beautiful tubular red flowers lasted for weeks.

We never saw any insects or birds visiting the flowers so we doubt we’ll see seeds from it. Apparently the plants are originally from South Africa or Madagascar, so perhaps we don’t have the correct pollinator here.

Do you know if mother-of-thousands will produce seeds?


Seems like certain flowers bring back childhood memories for me, and nasturtiums are an excellent example.

My maternal grandmother always had nasturtiums growing in beds around her house,

and inevitably a vase or two filled with these brilliant red-orange-yellow beauties on the kitchen table, the same kitchen table where we would nibble fresh-baked molasses cookies.

My grandmother called them “nasty-urtiums,” I think as a way to help us remember the name. Either that, or she was referring to their pungent odor. The common name nasturtium means “nose-twister” in Latin. (Technically these flowers now belong to the genus Tropaeolum).

In our garden, we have a tendency to nibble on the flower petals and savor their spiciness. We also check for the big wrinkly seeds, making sure we will have plenty of nasturtiums to enjoy next year.

What do you remember about nasturtiums?


Do you recognize these pink flowers?

They are hollyhocks, Alcea sp.

Where I grew up back East, my grandmother had hollyhocks growing in front of one of the sheds. All I remember about them was that they were very tall and that she didn’t do much to care for them. They just always grew there.

When I got to Arizona, I was delighted to find that hollyhocks will grow here, too.

They are biennials, which means they produce a plant the first year and then flower the second. Some are also short-lived perennials.

Ours started from plants that were being dug up and discarded from a friend’s garden. You can also plant seeds.

Like the poppies form the last post, hollyhocks also readily reseed. It is always fun to guess where the plants are going to turn up next.

Have you ever made hollyhock dolls using the bud as a head and flower as a skirt?

There’s nothing more beautiful than the morning sun coming through a hollyhock flower.

Do you have any favorite memories of hollyhocks?

Popping Up All Over

Don’t you just love plants that reseed themselves right where you’d like them to grow?

Our poppies have been so obliging this year.

They have been popping up in all the right places!

Spring at the Desert Botanical Garden

April is a wonderful time to visit the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. Arizona.

Of course you would expect beautiful cacti, like these hedgehog cacti with orange flowers.

The flowers glow in the sun.

Cactus flowers come in a rainbow of colors.

“Bee” sure to look into every one.

The wildflowers are wonderful, too. How can something called “scorpionweed” be so lovely?

After awhile you are at a loss for words.

Even the trees are full of colorful flowers.

If flowering is a pageant,

which flower would be the winner?