Saturday, January 7, 2012

Short-Lived Native Wildflowers and Trees

Often the lifespan of a plant isn’t considered except if it is an annual or perennial. But when you garden, do you research to see how long that perennial will live? There are many wildflowers, trees, shrubs, and grasses that are short-lived. It is good to know this in advance of planting, should you prefer something that will last longer than the short-lived plant.

Zizia aurea (L.) W. D. J. Koch (Golden Alexanders, Golden Zizia)

Golden Alexanders grow one to three feet high with yellow blooms from April through August. Stems are branching and red-tinted. Leaves are divided. Flowers are small, 5-petaled, and yellow. This perennial is short-lived. Golden Alexanders prefer sun or partial shade and moist sandy soils. It is a larval host for the Black swallowtail butterfly. Propagate by division or by seed.

Aesculus pavia L. (Red Buckeye, Scarlet Buckeye, Firecracker Plant)

This deciduous tree can also be a bushy shrub in some locations. It is a fast growing to its mature height of 15 to 25 feet. It will flower in dark red tubular flowers form April to May, and is a prime pick for those who want a splash of color. Hummingbird friendly, this tree will also attract bees. It prefers shady locations and will bloom early for first color in your garden. Keep in mind; this is a short-lived tree.

Cercis canadensis L. (Eastern redbud, Redbud)

This short lived tree does well in full shade or partial shade and moist well-drained soil. Also known as the “Judas tree” it is rumored to be the tree in which Judas Iscariot hung himself from. Redbud grows only 10 to 20 years and will reach a height of around 15 feet tall. It will flower pink or purple (rarely white) flowers from March to May. Bark from Eastern redbud has been used as an astringent and its flowers can be used in salads. A very versatile and pretty tree, albeit having short-lived beauty. Propagate by seed or cuttings.

Prunus umbellata Ell. (Flatwoods Plum, Hog Plum, Sloe)

A rather short lived tree, the Hog Plum reaches a height of 20 feet and a spread of 15 feet. It prefers partial shade. It will flower with spectacular half-inch white blooms, in clusters, from April to May. It has an irregular crown, a moderate growth pattern, and its leaves are used to make green dye. Expect this tree to live from 30 to 40 years.


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