Thursday, November 21, 2013

Growing Weird Plants

I like to grow weird plants like Ephedra, and they can be considered weird for any number of reasons. Anyone who studied plant taxonomy would have to consider Ephedra weird because it just doesn't fit into the preconceived notion of a cone bearing gymnosperm. It seems like a remnant of evolution. They are also unusual for their essentially leafless habit, although in their typically arid habitats, that trait is shared by many. Finally the alkaloids contained within the plant have a long history of use and abuse which gives the plant special interest. Gardeners are often collectors, and there is great pleasure in being able to say, "Oh yea, I have that."

When I was thinking about whether to include this plant in my blog I checked the Internet for images of Ephedra minima, which is the one I have been growing since 2008. Most pictures show the red fleshy cones, which I also illustrate, but I didn't see any with the interesting growth up a vertical crevice with the leaf-like switches lined up in a similar vertical orientation as if the plant is flowing up the rockery. My weird plant also makes a nice aesthetic contribution to my rock garden.