June 14, 2011

Featured Perennial - Bowman's Root

Our second featured perennial is Gillenia trifoliata a/k/a Bowman's Root.  This native plant has lovely mahogany stems and clean, pretty foliage.  But when it blooms it is even more lovely.  White flowers float above the slender stems like butterflies.  The blooms can last for months starting in spring.  And the show continues into fall when the leaves take on yellow and orange colors.

This is a tough, clump-forming, zone 5 plant that takes shade to part sun and grows to around 3 feet. It prefers acidic soil but will take some lime.  Best to keep it consistently watered but may exhibit some drought tolerance once established.  It makes a beautiful woodland garden plant.

An alternate botanic name is Porteranthus trifoliatus. The common name supposedly comes from settlors' description of Native Americans who use this plant as a medicinal.  It is also known as Indian Physic.

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