Field of Science

Friday fabulous flower - yellow-flowered wild ginger

The warm weather this week pushed a great many spring plants into flower; many of them had been in a swollen bud stage for a couple of weeks held back by the unseasonal cold weather.  Oh, yeah, like the weather today.  This particular spring flower does well in shade and our gardens are so shady, there is a constant quest for new shade-loving plants.  TPP well remembers the first time he observed this plant at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden on our 1st botanical geek tour.  We knew we'd never seen it before, but the family was clear; it was a member of the Aristolochiaceae, the birthworts.  A bit of searching in the patch failed to find an identifying label, so it took some research to discover that this yellow-flowered upright wild ginger, as it is sometimes called, was Saruma henryi, a native to China. Some diligent searching finally discovered a nursery selling some and it's been in our garden ever since, a small presence, but not very vigorous either.  It's doesn't seem to like leafy mulch, or maybe it's in a bit too much shade as a result of the growth of a biggish anise magnolia. At any rate, rather than hiding it's flowers like native wild ginger, and rather than having purple-brown flowers, this ginger (not a real ginger) has bright yellow flowers that it holds upon top of dullish, hairy but typical heart-shaped leaves on annual stems that will stand some 8-12 inches tall at maturity.  Now the plant is relatively common in the nursery trade; what a difference a decade makes.

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