Field of Science

Friday Fabulous Flower - Purple fumewort

Whenever the Phactors find some new plant it gets tested to see if it will survive under conditions of benign neglect.  Newly planted trees and shrubs are the only things that get TLC.  So it's always nice when some attractive, and even delicate looking new comer proves to be hardy and tough. A number of years ago Mrs. Phactor got Cordylis lutea, as the name suggests a yellow-flowered fumewort, a group of annual to perennial herbs that used to be in their own family, the Fumariaceae. Now they are part of the poppy family to which they are quite similar. They are sort of like a bleeding heart if you only took one-half of the flower. The yellow cordylis starts flowering early and will continue until the frost kills them back.  They have a tendency to weediness, but not so badly that you decide to nuke them.  A couple of other species have been tried unsuccessfully, but Cordylis solida, a blue-purple flowered species, more of a spring-flowering then die-back species, has proven pretty tough growing in three different beds and not showing any bad habits yet. It's quite cheerful as a low-growing edge of a bed plant that doesn't seem particularly palatable to the bun-buns. It may look delicate, but it's tough, quite frost hardy, which is important in our climate of highly changeable spring weather.

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