Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Water Willow

I was so excited this Memorial Day when, down at a certain wetland with my Sweetie, I discovered Water Willow in bloom.I have searched for this plant for years, ever since first coming across it in a distant location where I have not seen it since.

It is of course not related to true willows, which don't have flowers like this. It's in the acanthus family, whose more typical members are thorny residents in dry areas. Acanthus leaves show up on a lot of ancient Greek art, for example.

The genus name for water willow, justicia, comes from James Justice, an 18th century Scottish botanist. I wonder if he choose it in a proud moment of discovery or whether it was homage paid by an admirer of his work. Things to research, things to research.

I trimmed off a stem and am now trying to root it in a bucket of water for eventual transplant into the bog garden that I hope to build someday in place of the crumbling deck in my backyard. I'm just not a sit-on-the-deck kind of guy.

Now I have a new quest: to find the only other representative of this family that is native to my area: the so-called wild petunia, ruellia spp. Once again, it is no relation to actual petunias, which are in the potent nightshade family.


Janice Thomson said...

What a beautiful flower - no wonder you were looking for it! Does it have a fragrance too?

kat said...

I have the wild petunia here
but I am unfamiliar with the Water Willow.
Thanks for the info
and good luck with the bog!

Eastcoastdweller said...

Janice: No fragrance, just lovely upon the eyes.

Kat: I hope that years do not pass before I ever find wild petunia in bloom. The way my region is getting paved over, as fast as the child-of-hell developers can bribe the local officials and set their damned demon-dozers rumbling, I fear that the wild things which cannot pack up and flee into the Blue Ridge Mountains are doomed around here.