Thursday, December 29, 2011

White-Blooming Native Flowers of Georgia

Georgia is home to hot summers and cool winters, with a ground that is mostly red clay. Gardeners in this area have always had a little harder time than others in more topsoil-rich areas. Native plants of Georgia, however, are designed to grow in these conditions. These three native plants all have white blooms, for those looking to design a cool themed garden or want to contrast some other startling colored flowers.

Actaea pachypoda Ell. (White Baneberry, Doll’s-eyes, White Cohosh, Actaea alba)

A perennial herb with one to three foot stems, this plant has showy white fragrant flowers blooming from April to June. It fruits from July to August with 10 to 20 berry-like white fruits that give it the name “doll’s-eyes”. There is a red fruit variety as well. Baneberry prefers partial to full shade and a wet to moist well-drained soil. Soil should also be acidic. Propagate by seed or by root division.  If by root division, do so in early spring or fall. If by seed, plant them quarter-inch deep into the soil and plant as soon as the seed ripens. White baneberry is an old aborigine’s medicine for rheumatism. WARNING: While all parts are poisonous, the toxicity is more concentrated in the berries and roots. The toxic ingredients can be glycoside or essential oil, protoanemonin.

Ageratina altissima var. altissima  (L.) King & H.E. Robins. (White Snakeroot, Eupatorium rugosum)

This clump forming perennial grows up to four feet in height.  Erect dark purple/brown stems with white flat clustered flowers appear from August to October. Leaves are pointed and large. It is a great butterfly draw. Make sure that white snakeroot is planted in partial sun to full shade and in moist neutral soil, about three to four feet apart in spacing. It can be propagated by seed.  Historically, it has been used as a medicinal treatment for colds, liver disease, and fever.

Allium tricoccum Ait. (Wild Leek, Ramp)

The wild leek has clusters of small white flowers on a six to 10 inch stalk. Two oval leaves that are glossy will appear before the flowers do, with flowers coming May through July. Wild leeks taste like a mild onion and there is an annual “Ramp Festival” in the Great Smoky Mountains around the end of April. It prefers shaded areas and moist rich soils. Propagate by division or by seed. WARNING: Like the nodding onion, wild leeks have a low toxicity and can be eaten in small amounts but not large ones. It contains sulfides.


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