PLANT GARDEN STONECROP WITCHES' MONEY
(Sedum Telephium) Orpine family
Flowers - Dull purplish, very pale or bright reddish purple in
close, round, terminal clusters, each flower 1/3 in. or less
across, 5-parted, the petals twice as long as the sepals; 10
stamens, alternate ones attached to petals; pistils
4 or 5. Stem:
2 ft. high or less, erect, simple, in tufts, very smooth, pale
green, juicy, leafy. Leaves: Alternate, oval, slightly scalloped,
thick, fleshy, smooth, juicy, pale gray green, with stout midrib,
seated on stalk.
Preferred Habitat - Fields, waysides, rocky soil, originally
escaped from gardens.
Flowering Season - June- September.
Distribution - Quebec westward, south to Michigan and Maryland.
Children know the live-forever, not so well by the variable
flower - for it is a niggardly bloomer - as by the thick leaf
that they delight to hold in the mouth until, having loosened the
membrane, they are able to inflate it like a paper bag. Sometimes
dull, sometimes bright, the flower clusters never fail to attract
many insects to their feast, which is accessible even to those of
short tongues. Each blossom is perfect in itself, i.e., it
contains both stamens and pistils; but to guard against
self-fertilization it ripens its anthers and sheds its pollen on
the insects that carry it away to older flowers before its own
stigmas mature and become susceptible to imported pollen. After
the seed-cases take on color, they might be mistaken for
As if the plant did not already possess enough popular names, it
needs must share with the European goldenrod and our common
mullein the title of Aaron's rod. Sedere, to sit, the root of the
generic name, applies with rare appropriateness to this entire
group that we usually find seated on garden walls, rocks, or, in
Europe, even on the roofs of old buildings. Rooting freely from
the joints, our plant forms thrifty tufts where there is little
apparent nourishment; yet its endurance through prolonged drought
is remarkable. Long after the farmer's scythe, sweeping over the
roadside, has laid it low, it thrives on the juices stored up in
fleshy leaves and stem until it proves its title to the most
lusty of all folk names.
PURPLE or WATER AVENS
(Geum rivale) Rose family
Flowers - Purple, with some orange chrome, 1 in. broad or less,
terminal, solitary, nodding; calyx 5-lobed, purplish, spreading;
5 petals, abruptly narrowed into claws, forming a cup-shaped
corolla; stamens and pistils of indefinite number; the styles,
jointed and bent in middle, persistent, feathery below. Stem: 1
to 2 ft. high, erect, simple or nearly so, hairy, from thickish
rootstock. Leaves: Chiefly from root, on footstems; lower leaves
irregularly parted; the side segments usually few and small; the
1 to 3 terminal segments sharply, irregularly lobed; the few
distant stem leaves 3-foliate or simple, mostly seated on stem.
Fruit: A dry, hairy head stalked in calyx.
Preferred Habitat - Swamps and low, wet ground.
Flowering Season - May-July.
Distribution - Newfoundland far westward, south to Colorado,
eastward to Missouri and Pennsylvania, also northern parts of Old
Mischievous bumblebees, thrusting their long tongues between the
sepals and petals of these unopened flowers, steal nectar without
conferring any favor in return. Later, when they behave properly
and put their heads inside to feast at the disk on which the
stamens are inserted, they dutifully carry pollen from old
flowers to the early maturing stigmas of younger ones.
Self-fertilization must occur, however, if the bees have not
removed all the pollen when a blossom closes. When the purple
avens opens in Europe, the bees desert even the primrose to feast
upon its abundant nectar. Since water is the prime necessity in
the manufacture of this sweet, and since insects that feed upon
it have so much to do with the multiplication of flowers, it is
not surprising that the swamp, which has been called "nature's
sanctuary," should have its altars so exquisitely decked. This
blossom hangs its head, partly to protect its precious nectar
from rain, and partly to make pilfering well nigh impossible to
the unwelcome crawling insect that may have braved the forbidding
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