Thursday, June 19, 2014

Seeing Red

One of our favorite wildflowers is in bloom now – Standing Cypress.  Watch for the tall red plumes along roadsides in North Texas in May – July, and in the Native Plant Garden adjacent to the Visitor Center at Hagerman NWR.  According to the Native Plant Information Network, Standing Cypress is a biennial plant, in the Phlox family.  The botanical name is Ipomopsis rubra; additional common names are Red Texas star, Texas plume and Red gilia.  

Standing Cypress may reach 4 -6 feet in height.  The red blossoms begin appearing from the tip down.   The bloom may also be orange or yellow.  The plant grows in dry, well-drained soil.  You can collect seed in pods as the bloom dries if you want to try to propagate it, sowing in the fall – expect about  60% success, according to the Aggie Horticulture site.  Seed is available for purchase also.  From NPIN: “The first year of growth will produce a ferny rosette, followed by a flower spike the second year. When the spike has bloomed out, cut it off, and new spikes will be formed.“

Standing cypress is  attractive as a nectar plant for hummingbirds, and some sites also say it attracts butterflies.  The plant is native to Central and East Texas, and eastward to Kentucky, North Carolina and Florida.

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