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Botany - Flower terms
Category: Animals and Nature > Botany
Date & country: 09/09/2007, USA
Words: 2339


Angelica
(Archangel, Wild Parsnip) This herb, also known as Archangel and Wild Parsnip, is a biennial or short-lived perennial. Angelica grows 5 to 6 feet high and 2 to 3 feet wide. This plant slightly resembles parsnip and has bright green, twice-compound leaves and large umbels of greenish-white to cream colored flowers. Its fragrant leaves are used both fresh and dried.…

Angelica Tree
(Aralia) This group consists of hardy trees, deciduous shrubs, perennials and a few climbers that are natives of North America, Japan, China and Korea. They are mainly grown for their handsome foliage. A. elata (Japanese Angelica Tree) is often seen growing as a large shrub, but sometimes grows to a small tree. The spiny stems are covered with huge, doubly pinnate leaves, which mainly grow at the ends of stems. They usually turn pretty colors in the autumn. In late summer, panicles of white flow…

Angiopteris
(Giant Fern, King Fern, Turnip Fern) 100 species of a very large primitive ferns.…

Angophora
(Dwarf Apple Australian, Rough Barked Apple, Smooth Barked Apple, Sydney Red Gum) Seven species of trees and shrubs all Australia.…

Anigozanthus
These perennials, known as Kangaroo Paws, are natives of western Australia. They can be cultivated in a greenhouse that has a minimum winter temperature of 50 degrees and they can be grown outside in mild, dry climates. These vigorous plants grow from 3 to 4 feet high and spread up to 18 inches. A. manglesii has linear- to lance-shaped, gray green leaves that grow up to 16 inches long. The red and green, tubular flowers are large and covered with down. They grow on narrow stems in the spri…

Anise Hyssop
(Agastache) Anise Hyssop is a half-hardy perennial native to North America. It is a handsome, erect-growing plant that can reach a height of 4 feet. It has many branches and they are terminated with short spikes of violet-blue flowers. This is a good landscape and bee plant. Its fragrant, anise scented foliage may be used for teas and seasoning.…

Aniseed
(Pimpinella) This is a large group of frost-tender annuals, biennials and perennials from China, the Himalayas, Africa and Europe. P. anisum, commonly called Anise or Aniseed, is a native to Greece and is used for culinary purposes. This lanky annual herb grows up to 2 feet high and 6 to 12 inches wide. They have finely divided upper leaves and flat clusters, resembling umbrellas, of creamy white flowers. P. major 'Rosea' is a vigorous perennial that grows up to 4 feet high. The large, dark gree…

Annual
(Callistephus) This is an annual that is in full beauty in August and September. They have branching growth and there are many gorgeous single- and double-flowered varieties that come in an assortment of shapes and colors. Callistephus (annual Aster) belong to the Daisy family, Compositae. The annual Asters are wonderful flowers for summer and early autumn; at that time they are especially valued for providing cut flowers. They do the best when the nights are cool; they won't bloom or grow in to…

Annual Sage
(Salvia) This is a large group of hardy and tender perennials, annuals and shrubs. They are found wild in South America, southern Europe, northern Africa and North America. Salvia belong to the Mint family, Labiatae. The name is derived from salveo, to save, and refers to the medicinal value the plants were thought to possess. These plants grow 1 to 3 feet high and form branched clumps. Their leaves are ovate or lanceolate, 2 to 4 inches long. The flowers form on spikes that grow above th…

Anthemis
These perennials, commonly known as Dog Fennel or Chamomile, are natives of Sicily. These plants belong to the Daisy family, Compositae. A. tinctoria variety 'E.C. Buxton' forms clumps of finely divided, dark green foliage, resembling Fern. The large, single flowers resemble Daisies. They are produced abundantly throughout the summer, one to each strong, slender stem. They are a pretty pale lemon-yellow color. This plant will grow up to 3 feet high with a 3-foot spread. A. punctata cupaniana is …

Anthericum
This plant, known as St. Bernard's Lily, is an upright plant, growing from 18 to 24 inches high and 12 inches wide. The gray-green leaves are long and thin, resembling grass. The small, white flowers are trumpet-shaped and produced in long, spikes, in early summer. This perennial is found wild from southern Europe to southern Turkey.…

Antholyza
These are South African corms that belong to the Iris family. Their beautifully colored flowers are produced during the summer. The name Antholyza refers to the supposed resemblance of an angry animal; it is derived from anthos, flower, and lyssa, rage.…

Anthriscus
(Chervil, French Parsley) A. cerefolium, Chervil or French Parsley, is an annual herb, which grows wild in southern Europe. Chervil grows up to 12 inches high and 18 inches wide. It resembles Parsley with its fine, light green leaves. It is widely used in French cuisine to add a delicate anise flavor, or as a garnish. A. sylvestris 'Ravenswing' is a hardy perennial, which forms clumps of finely divided, fern-like foliage that is green at first and black-purple when mature. The tiny flowers…

Anthurium
(Crystal Anthurium, Flamingo Flower, Flamingo Plant, Tail Flower) These plants are mainly from tropical America. They are grown for their brightly colored flower spathes or their ornamental leaves. Anthurium andraeanum is a native of Columbia that has orange-red spathes and large heart-shaped leaves. Anthurium crystallinum is native to Columbia and also Peru. Its flowers aren't as striking as the others, but it has large, velvety green leaves with contrasting silvery-white veins. The flower…

Anthyllis
(Jupiter's Beard, Kidney Vetch, Lady's Fingers, Woundwort) This group consists of annual and perennial, evergreen and deciduous shrubs and herbaceous plants. They are natives of Europe, North Africa, and western Asia. A. hermanniae is a pretty, dwarf, deciduous shrub that is suitable for growing in the rock garden. It has small, thin leaves consisting of three leaflets. However, since the side leaflets are so small, the leaves seem to consist of only one. From early to mid-summer, clusters of tw…

Antirrhinum
(Snapdragon) These summer-flowering plants are great for garden beds and borders. They are also good for decorating the greenhouse and are grown under glass by florists for cut flowers. They grow wild in North America and Europe and belong to the Foxglove family. Antirrhinum is derived from anti, like, and rhin, nose or snout, which refers to the shape of the flower. Antirrhinums are commonly known as Snapdragons. In mild climates, the common Snapdragon, A. majus, and its var…

Anyu
(Tropaeolum) This is a large group of tender annuals and perennials that are found wild from Mexico to Chile. Some are bushy, self-branching plants that grow 1 to 1½ feet high and some are climbing or trailing plants, growing 4 to 6 feet. The rounded, peltate leaves grow up to 2 inches across. They are waxy green and some varieties are splashed with white. The fragrant flowers are shaped irregularly and grow 2 to 3 inches across. They are colored rose, pink, red, orange, or yellow. Plucking off …

Aphelandra
(Saffron Spike, Zebra Plant) These attractive tender perennials and shrubs are grown for their ornamental foliage and interesting flower spikes. They are found wild in South America and require high humidity and warm temperatures to flower. A. squarrosa 'Louisae' is an erect plant with oval, slightly wrinkled leaves. They are shiny and dark green veined with white and having a white midrib. The flowers are tubular and 2-lipped, growing in thick spikes from the axils of yellow bracts from late su…

Apios
(Groundnut, Potato Bean, Wild Bean) This hardy North American plant was valued as food by Native Americans and frontiersmen who compared the leguminous plant to beans because of its pods, and the small, starchy, tubers produced in strings, to potatoes. Apios is commonly called Groundnut, Wild Bean and Potato Bean. This climbing plant does resemble sparsely-leaved pole beans and can grow from 5 to 7 feet high. They bear clusters of fragrant, purplish-brown, pea-shaped flowers during the summer. T…

Apium
(Celeriac, Celery Root, Chinese Celery, French Celery, Knob Celery, Leaf Celery, Turnip-Rooted Celery) This is the botanical name for Celery, Leaf Celery (also called French Celery or Chinese Celery) and Celeriac (also called Knob Celery, Celery Root, or Turnip-rooted Celery).…

Aponogeton
(Cape Pondweed, Lace-Leaf, Lattice-Leaf, Water Hawthorne) These hardy and tender aquatic plants are native to Asia, Africa and Australia. A. distachyus, the Water Hawthorne or Cape Pondweed, is the most popular variety. It forms oblong green and red leaves that float on the water's surface. In the spring and fall, inflorescences rise out of the water bearing vanilla-scented, white flowers that are speckled with black. A. fenestralis, the Lace-Leaf or Lattice-Leaf, is a tender plant that sends up…

Aporocactus
(Rat's Tail Cactus) This group of epiphytic cacti is native to Mexico. Growing on trees and in rocky crevices in their native habitats, these cacti are excellent for growing in hanging baskets. Commonly known as Rat's Tail Cactus, they consist of long, pendulous, slender stems that are clothed with small tufts of reddish-brown, bristly spines. The stems can reach several feet in length. Rat's Tail Cacti bear tons of vividly colored blossoms in early spring. The flowers are produced on the previo…

Apostle Plant
(Neomarica) These are tender, herbaceous, perennial plants that belong to the Iris family. They grow wild in tropical America. They have plump rhizomes from which arise sword-shaped leaves that are 1 to 2 feet long and 1½ to 2 inches wide. The flowers, which do not last very long, are blue, white or yellow and are produced in clusters at the ends of flat leaf like stalks. Their three outer petals spread out almost horizontally and they are broader at the ends than at the bases. They are 1-2 inch…

Apple Cactus
(Cereus) This popular group of cacti from South America consists of about 60 species. These vigorous-growing, mostly columnar-shaped cacti are easy to grow and make excellent container plants when small. Outdoors, when used as landscaping plants, these cacti will usually reach a height of 30 feet or more, growing up to 4 feet per year. Some branch at the top, resembling a candelabrum; others branch close to the base. In the spring or summer, their funnel-shaped flowers open at night closing as t…

Apple Mint
(Mentha) This is a large group of well-known perennial herbs, which are widely spread over the temperate parts of the world. Mentha includes the Apple Mint, Curly Mint, Pennyroyal, Peppermint, Pineapple Mint, Spearmint and Water or Bog Mint. Following are descriptions of each variety.…

Apple Tree
(Malus) Malus is the botanical name for a group of popular trees commonly known as Apple trees and Crab Apple Trees. These small, deciduous trees and shrubs are suitable for growing in the temperate zones. Their lovely, fragrant blossoms are a welcome sight in the spring and the arrival of their delicious and ornamental fruits is anticipated. Below, Crab Apples and Apples will be described separately.…

Apricot
(Prunus) Prunus is the botanical name for a large group of deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs. These popular plants are greatly valued for their delicious, edible fruits, gorgeous spring blossoms and some, for their colorful foliage; some varieties are grown for decoration alone, since all do not produce edible fruits. Numerous varieties have been developed from the wild forms; some were bred for maximum fruit production and better quality fruit while others were bred for larger and more a…

Aquilegia
These hardy perennials are found wild throughout North America, Siberia and other northern temperate regions. Aquilegias, or Columbines as they are commonly known, are grown for their beautiful, spurred flowers that are produced during the summer. A. vulgaris has gray-green leaves that are rounded and deeply divided into thin lobes. Its double, funnel-shaped flowers have short spurs and they grow atop thin stems. They consist of many, slender, red-pink petals, which are tipped with pale green. T…

Arachis
(Goober, Groundnut, Peanut) Arachis hypogaea is the botanical name for the Peanut. The Peanut, also called Goober and Groundnut, is a frost-tender annual native to Brazil. Once mainly a warm climate crop, they have gained popularity in home gardens because early-maturing varieties with large seeds have been developed. These attractive plants are neat and resemble clovers. They grow about 12 feet high and 2 feet wide. It produces two kinds of flowers; male (staminate) flowers, which are bright ye…

Aralia
(American Spikenard, Angelica Tree, Bristly Sarsaparilla, Devil's Club, Devil's Walking Stick, Elk Clover, Hercules' Club, Wild Sarsaparilla) This group consists of hardy trees, deciduous shrubs, perennials and a few climbers that are natives of North America, Japan, China and Korea. They are mainly grown for their handsome foliage. A. elata (Japanese Angelica Tree) is often seen growing as a large shrub, but sometimes grows to a small tree. The spiny stems are covered with huge, doubly pinnate …

Araucaria
(Bunya Bunya Pine Of Queensland, Chilean Pine, Hoop Pine, Monkey-Puzzle, Norfolk Island Pine) These evergreen trees are natives of Australia, South America, New Guinea, New Caledonia and Norfolk Island. A. araucana (Monkey Puzzle Tree or Chilean Pine) is native of southern Chile and Tierra del Fuego. In the U.S., it is hardy in mild climates and on the Pacific Coast, though it does better in cooler, coastal regions. In Great Britain and the milder climates of Europe it is a common sight in the l…

Araujia
This is a South American climbing plant that is suitable for growing in a greenhouse free of frost or outside in mild climates. In colder areas it is great for planting outside in the summer and then lifting and growing them in a cool, light greenhouse or sunroom during the winter. This plant can grow up to 20 feet tall and it bears small, white flowers in July.…

Arborvitae
(Thuja) These evergreen trees are found wild in North America, Korea, Japan and China. They are very pretty trees and are hardy in most parts of North America where the soil is suitable and atmospheric conditions are fairly clean. The leaves of this tree, also known as Arborvitae, Northern White Cedar, and Swamp Cedar, are scale-like and overlap each other tightly against the twig. They are yellowish-green, one-eighth to one-fourth of an inch long and ovate with a pointed or blunt tip. The branc…

Arbutus
(Madrone, Manzanita, Oregon Laurel, Strawberry Tree) This group consists of beautiful, evergreen trees or shrubs. They grow wild in North, South and Central America, Mexico, Asia Minor, southern Europe and the Canary Islands. They only grow from 10 to 20 feet high. A. andrachnoides is a hybrid small tree with attractive cinnamon-red branches that are covered with green leaves slightly edged with red. In late fall and early winter, waxy white, bell-shaped flowers are produced. A. menziesii (Madro…

Archangel
(Angelica) This herb, also known as Archangel and Wild Parsnip, is a biennial or short-lived perennial. Angelica grows 5 to 6 feet high and 2 to 3 feet wide. This plant slightly resembles parsnip and has bright green, twice-compound leaves and large umbels of greenish-white to cream colored flowers. Its fragrant leaves are used both fresh and dried.…

Archontophoenix
(King Palm) These are Australian palms that are grown outdoors in southern Florida and in southern California, and as pot or tub plants indoors. They have single, smooth trunks and lovely heads of elegantly curving, feathery leaves.…

Arctic Catchfly
(Lychnis) This group of perennials, annuals and biennials are found wild in the North Temperate and Arctic zones. These plants are grown for their pretty flowers. The height ranges from 1 to 4 feet among the different varieties. L. viscaria, the Alpine Catchfly, is an erect growing perennial found on dry, rocky hills and cliffs from Europe to western Asia. The green, oval- to lance-shaped leaves are sticky-hairy beneath. In early summer, a profusion of small, sticky, star-shaped flowers are born…

Arctium
(Burdock, Gobo) This European biennial is commonly known as the Great Burdock or Gobo. It has large, rough foliage and grows quite large. It is grown mainly for its long, light brown root and is commonly cultivated in the Orient. Burdock takes up a lot of space, much more than Rhubarb, and may become a weed if not controlled.…

Arctostaphylos
(Bearberry, Kinnikinick, Manzanita) These evergreen shrubs or small trees are natives to western North America, northern Europe and Mexico. A. uva-ursi (Bearberry or Kinnikinick) is a creeping, alpine shrub that is suitable for planting in rock gardens or along banks or sandy slopes. The green foliage of this attractive plant turns bronze in autumn, but becomes green again in the spring. In early to mid-summer, clusters of nodding, white flowers tinged with pink are produced. The flowers are fol…

Arctotheca
(Cape Dandelion) A. calendula, the Cape Dandelion, is originally from South Africa and is naturalized in central Portugal and southwestern Spain. The Cape Dandelion forms mounds of medium to dark green, divided or whole leaves, which are roughly hairy above and white downy beneath. The flowers resemble Daisies and are produced from late spring to fall. They have yellow ray florets and a darker center.…

Arctotis
(African Daisy) These annuals and tender perennials are natives of South Africa and belong to the Daisy family, Compositae. They grow 1 to 2½ feet high, usually have fuzzy leaves and produce single-stemmed flowers, 2 inches across, in most colors except blue.…

Ardisia
(Coral Berry, Marlberry) This is a large group of tender, evergreen shrubs and trees. A. crispa has small, dark green, shiny leaves and pinkish-white flowers in the spring. Small plants look lovely in pots when covered with their scarlet berries in the fall. The flowers and berries last a long time, so it's common to see flowers and green and ripe berries at the same time. This plant forms a bush about 4 feet high. It can be grown in a greenhouse that has a minimum winter temperature of 50 degre…

Areca
(Betel Palm) These feathery leaved Palms are native to Madagascar and other tropical regions. They are great as potted plants when they are young. They need a minimum temperature of 60 degrees. They can live outside in southern Florida and other subtropical and tropical regions. A. Cathecu, the Betel Palm, produces the well-known Betel Nut of commerce, which is in great demand in Eastern countries for chewing. It is slender and can grow up to 100 feet tall. A glandiformis is also tall and slende…

Arecastrum
(Queen Palm) This Palm is a native of Brazil and has graceful, plumy leaves. This tree can grow over 30 feet outside. It's commonly planted outdoors in southern Florida and southern California. They are attractive when used as street trees, but they aren't very long-lived. Arecastrums should be planted where there isn't high winds because their leafstalks can kink or bend and take away from the beauty of their leaves. In unfavorable climates it can be grown inside in pots or tubs. A. Romanzoffia…

Aregelia
These are tropical plants, belonging to the Pineapple family. They are native of South America. They are epiphytes (growing on trees) and their leaves, which are arranged in basal rosettes, have prickly edges. They produce thick clusters of white, blue or violet flowers.…

Argyroderma
(Stone Plant) This group of succulent plants is originally from South Africa. Commonly known as Stone Plants, these chubby, stem-less leaves resemble pebbles with a silvery sheen. They consist of a pair of fleshy leaves, either in clusters or singly, up to an inch high. They produce small, yellow or purple flowers. A. ringens is a clustering variety that can tolerate low, but not freezing, temperatures, as long as they are kept dry. In late summer, 1/4-inch, purple flowers are produced.…

Arisaema
This group consists of more than 190 deciduous, tuberous-rooted plants belonging to the Arum family, Araceae. (The flowers of the plants of the family, Araceae, are packed on a long spike, called a spadix, which is surrounded by a wide, petal-like, often attractive spathe. An example is the Calla Lily. To see an example of an aroid flower, look up spathe or spadix in our dictionary.) Arisaemas are mostly found wild in the Far East and North America. These plants pr…

Aristea
These evergreen perennials are natives of South Africa. They have firm-textured, grass-like leaves with stiff tips. The flowers are usually blue and are produced in early summer. They belong to the Iris family.…

Aristolochia
(Calico Flower, Dutchman's Pipe, Dutchmen's Pipe, Pelican Flower, Virginia Snakeroot) This group consists of hardy and tender, evergreen and deciduous shrubs, climbing plants, and herbaceous plants, which are mainly from warmer climates. The hardy kinds grow wild in California and other areas in the south. Those that are from Brazil, Guatemala, West Africa and other tropical countries can be cultivated in a greenhouse. Some have huge flowers and some are grown for their ornamental foliage. Some …

Aristotelia
(New Zealand Wineberry) This group consists of tender, evergreen trees and shrubs that are mostly natives of South America and Australasia. A. chilensis var. Variegata is a medium-sized to large shrub with 5-inch leaves that are mottled with yellow. Male and female flowers usually grow on separate plants. The berries of these plants are edible.…

Armoracia
(Horseradish) A. rusticana, the Horseradish, is a hardy, perennial herb, native to southeast Europe. It is such a zealous and stubborn plant that is has escaped from gardens and naturalized in some areas. Horseradish grows 2 to 2½ feet high at maturity and has large, coarse foliage resembling the common weed curly dock. The thick, deep root is edible.…

Aronia
(Chokeberry) The deciduous shrubs belonging to this group are commonly known as Chokeberries. They are natives of North America and are grown for their attractive foliage, which turns brilliant colors in autumn, white or pinkish flowers in the spring and colorful fruits. A. arbutifolia (Red Chokeberry) is a medium-sized shrub with slender, dark green leaves that are grayish-downy beneath. Its blossoms are followed by bright red fruits. A. melanocarpa (Black Chokeberry) is a small shrub with shin…

Arrow Arum
(Peltandra) This hardy, aquatic perennial is mainly grown for its decorative foliage. P. virginica, the Arrow Arum as it is commonly called, is a native of North America. It produces large, glossy dark green, arrow-shaped leaves. In the summer, unnoticeable, Arum-like, greenish flowers are produced and these are followed by green berries. This variety grows 1 or 2 feet high. Another variety, P. sagittifolia, produces red berries.…

Arrowhead
(Sagittaria) These hardy and tender, bog and aquatic plants are commonly known as Arrowhead. They are great for the perimeter of pools and water gardens and for tanks or tubs in the greenhouse. The leaves are shaped like an arrowhead, thus the common name, and they produce tall spikes of pretty, white flowers, ½- to 1-inch in diameter, from June to October. S. sagittifolia, Common Arrowhead, is a hardy variety native to Europe and Asia. It produces underground tubers that are eaten in the Orient…

Arrowroot Plant
(Maranta) These frost tender perennials are native to tropical America and are grown for their beautiful foliage. They can be grown outside in frost-free climates only. Their leaves rise straight out of the soil and vary in size and shape. They are often marked with streaks or blotches of contrasting colors. M. leuconeura variety erythroneura (Herringbone Plant) has oblong, velvety, black green leaves veined with red and having a lime-green midrib area. This plant will produce erect spikes of sm…

Artabotrys
(Tail Grape) These are tropical, evergreen climbers that can be planted outdoors in the South and in greenhouses everywhere else. A. odoratissimus produces flowers that are greenish or yellowish and fragrant; A. uncinatus has reddish-brown, fragrant flowers.…

Artemisia
(Ambrosia, Dusty Miller, Estragon, French Tarragon, Ghostplant, Lad's Love, Mugwort, Old Man, Old Woman, Sage Brush, Southernwood, Summer Fir, Tarragon, Wormwood) These hardy, shrubby or herbaceous plants are from Asia, Europe and North America. They belong to the Daisy family, Compositae. Some Artemisias are grown for their ornamental or fragrant leaves and others, for their flowers. A. tridentata (Sage Brush) is a shrubby native of desert and semi-desert regions in the West. A. vulgaris (C…

Artichoke
(Cynara) Cynara is the botanical name of two vegetables known as the Globe Artichoke and the Cardoon. The Cardoon is, C. cardunculus, botanically. It's a tender perennial that can grow 6 to 8 feet high. It resembles its cousin, the Globe Artichoke, but the gray-green leaves overlap at the base. The wide, plump, edible stems form loose stalks or heads like celery. Cardoons keep their vase shape until late in the season, when a branching central stem shoots up. Several buds, which resemble small a…

Artocarpus
(Breadfruit Tree, Jaca, Jack Fruit) These are tropical trees that grow wild in India and Malaya. In the U.S. they must be grown in a warm greenhouse except in southern Florida, where they may be planted outside. The stems of these plants contain a milky juice. These are handsome plants when grown in large pots or tubs in a greenhouse that has a minimum temperature of 60 degrees. The main kind is A. communis, which can grow about 40 feet high and has giant, deeply lobed leaves. Egg-shaped fruits …

Arugula
(Eruca) This is a cold tolerant vegetable grown for its foliage. It is known as Argula, Rocket Salad, Roquette, Rucola and Rugula. It has deeply toothed leaves and looks a bit like slender, short-topped turnip greens. Its strong scent and flavor resemble peanuts. This plant belongs to the Mustard family, Cruciferae.…

Arum
(Black Calla, Italian Arum) These are hardy and tender plants that grow wild in Europe and Asia. They shouldn't be confused with the Arum Lily (Zantedeschia) or the Water Arum (Calla palustris). These plants are more interesting than pretty. A. italicum grows to 2 feet and has spear-shaped leaves and yellowish-green flower spathes. A. palaestinum grows 18 inches high and produces black-purple spathes. This plant is tender and should be grown in pots in a frost proof greenhouse in the North.…

Aruncus
These perennials are found in damp, shady woods and streambanks of mountainous areas from west and central Europe, Caucasus, southern Russia and eastern North America. Aruncus, also known as Goatsbeard and Cutleaf, grow in clumps. A. dioicus has large, long-stalked, dark green leaves, which are divided into lance-shaped leaflets with serrated edges. Its tiny, white flowers grow in large, fluffy, open plumes above the foliage in mid-summer. This plant is great for planting beside the water. A. di…

Arundinaria
(Bamboo, Cane Reed, Southern Cane, Switchcane) This is a group of Bamboos. They belong to the Grass family, Gramineae. They are natives to the Himalayas, North America and China. A. gigantea, commonly known as Cane, Southern Cane, Cane Reed and Switchcane, grows wild in the bogs, stream and river sides and wet lands of the southern U.S. It is a rigid perennial that grows in thick stands up to 25 feet high. Its leaves are long, slender, flexible and lanceolate. The leaves that grow from the main …

Asclepias
(Bloodflower, Butterfly Weed, Milkweed, Silkweed, Swan Plant) Most of these perennials are from North America, but at least one is from South Africa and one is found in tropical America. Nearly all of these erect plants grow 2 or 3 feet high, but one, A. physocarpa (also known as Gomphocarpus physocarpus and commonly known as the Swan Plant), grows up to 6 feet high with a spread of 2 feet. This plant has lance-shaped, medium green, hairy leaves. During the summer, umbels of creamy or greenish-w…

Ash
(Fraxinus) These hardy, deciduous trees are commonly known as Ash Trees. Most of the Ashes are natives of the Northern Hemisphere. These quick-growing trees are suitable for growing in yards and along roads; they will survive in almost any soil in wind-swept areas and near the sea. Ashes produce compound leaves with toothed leaflets that turn yellow and purple colors in autumn. Most of these trees produce unnoticeable, greenish-yellow, male and female flowers on separate trees. These are borne i…

Asimina
(Papaw) Asiminas are mostly deciduous shrubs or small trees native to North America. A. angustifolia and A. speciosa are shrubs that grow 3 or 4 feet high; they aren't hardy in the North. A. triloba, the Papaw, is a hardy tree that grows from 30 to 35 feet high in the wild, but in gardens it is usually grown as a multi-stemmed shrub. This tree is the only Asimina hardy in the northern U.S. It is also hardy in parts of Canada. The Papaw produces many suckers from the roots, which tend to make a d…

Asparagus
(Asparagus Fern, Climbing Asparagus, Foxtail Fern, Smilax) Asparagus plants are not only a delicious vegetable, but different species can also be lovely as houseplants. The Asparagus officinalis is the botanical name of the garden variety. It grows wild in southern Europe, southwestern England, and southern Ireland. Most of the greenhouse varieties come from South Africa. These are perennial plants with erect stems and tiny branches bearing inconspicuous flowers followed by reddish berries that …

Asparagus Fern
(Asparagus) Asparagus plants are not only a delicious vegetable, but different species can also be lovely as houseplants. The Asparagus officinalis is the botanical name of the garden variety. It grows wild in southern Europe, southwestern England, and southern Ireland. Most of the greenhouse varieties come from South Africa. These are perennial plants with erect stems and tiny branches bearing inconspicuous flowers followed by reddish berries that contain black seeds. They can be grown outdoors…

Aspen
(Populus) Populus is a large group of deciduous (leaf-losing) trees that can attain great heights. These trees, commonly known as Aspen, Poplar and Cottonwood trees, are found in Europe, Asia and North America. Some are found wild in other regions, one being a native of tropical Africa. It is difficult to say how many wild kinds there are, because these trees hybridize very easily. Some of the Poplars are very pretty in bloom, especially the male forms, which may also have reddish leaves when th…

Asphodeline
These perennials are natives of southern Europe. They form clumps of slender, linear leaves up to a foot long. They are silvery-green to gray green. In late spring or summer, they produce compact spikes of small, fragrant, star-shaped, flowers. They may have single or double blooms and the colors may be yellow, yellow striped with green and white striped with green. These plants grow up to 3 feet in height with a width of 18 inches.…

Asphodelus
These perennials are natives of central and southern Europe. They form clumps of flattened, linear, medium green leaves that grow up to 2 feet long. In late spring and early summer, they produce thick-stemmed racemes of small, star-shaped, white flowers. These plants grow up to 3 feet high and spread 18 inches.…

Aspidistra
(Cast Iron Plant, Parlor Palm) This hardy plant needs the least effort to succeed. A native of China, it has large, broad, dark green leaves. Where the winters are mild, this plant can be placed outside in shady areas. Large, well-established plants occasionally produce interesting flowers that grow low among the leaves and are purplish-brown. A. elatior variegata produces foliage that is variegated with green and pale yellow.…

Asplenium
(Bird's-Nest Fern, Hart's Tongue Fern, Mother's Fern, Rusty Back Fern, Spleenwort) These Ferns are natives of North America, Africa, India and other countries. With long, broad, bright green leaves that can grow up to 18 inches high, this plant doesn't really look like the typical fern. The tougher plants come from North America and they are good for growing outdoors in gardens as long as they have well-drained soil. A. platyneuron (Ebony Spleenwort), A. viride (Green Spleenwort), A. Bradleyi an…

Astelia
This small group consists of attractive, evergreen, clump-forming perennials that are native to the Pacific Islands, New Zealand and Australia. A. nervosa (Kakaha) produces tufts of long, sword-shaped, sage green leaves that are noticeably veined. The tiny, but fragrant flowers are borne in compact, branching panicles in late summer. There are male and female plants, the female bearing orange berries.…

Aster
Asters are beautiful perennials that are found wild in North America and southern Europe. These plants range in height with the different varieties; some may be as small as 12 inches or as tall as 5 feet. These plants bloom during the summer and fall. A. lateriflorus 'Delight' is a spreading plant, growing up to 4 feet with a spread of 3 feet. It has small, narrow, lance-shaped, dark green leaves. It produces tiny, flowers in thick sprays in the fall. They are white with a gold center. A. novi-b…

Asteranthera
This group consists of only one species of evergreen creepers. A. ovata is an attractive, trailing plant that can climb by means of aerial roots. It can be grown up walls and trees or used as a ground cover. The small leaves of this plant have a more or less round shape. Its tubular-shaped, two-lipped flowers grow from the axils of the leaves, in early summer. They are 2 inches long and colored red with white throats.…

Astilbe
This group consists of hardy perennials, which are natives of Japan, Korea and China. They are grown for their beautiful, feathery plumes or arching spires of flowers, which come in shades of pink, red, crimson, purple and white. These plants form clumps and grow from 18 inches to 3 feet high.…

Astrantia
These herbaceous perennials, also known as Masterwort, are natives of Europe and Asia. They grow from 1 to 2 feet high and they spread from 12 to 18 inches. The flowers of these plants are valued for drying and using in arrangements. A. magor var. 'Sunningdale Variegated' forms clumps of leaves, which are divided into 3 to 5 coarsely toothed lobes. They are medium green and splotched with pale yellow and cream. Throughout the summer and fall they produce clusters of tiny, greenish-pink florets, …

Astrophytum
(Bishop's Cap, Bishop's Miter, Goat's Horn Cactus, Monk's Hood, Sea-Urchin Cactus, Silver Dollar Cactus, Star Cactus) This popular group of cacti consists of only four wild species and maybe a dozen hybrids. These natives to Mexico are suitable for growing in greenhouses, windowsills and outdoors where climates permit. Most of these cacti form short, spherical plants that may or may not have spines. They are usually flecked with small, white scales. In spring to late summer, numerous, large, dai…

Athrotaxis
(King William Pine, Summit Cedar) This group consists of three, evergreen conifers from Tasmania. They are commonly known as King William Pines or Summit Cedars. A. laxifolia is a small- to medium-sized tree that forms a domed crown. The leaves are only ¼-inch long, partly adpressed to the branches and partly spreading. The bark of this tree is brown and furrowed. Small, bright green cones that turn orange then brown are produced abundantly.…

Athyrium
(Lady Fern, Painted Fern) This is a large group of hardy ferns. They are found throughout the temperate and tropical regions. A. Filix-femina, the Lady Fern, grows wild throughout Europe, Asia and North America. It has rich green fronds, from 1 to 3 feet in length. A. niponicum, the Painted Fern, has deciduous, oval leaves that are divided into many segments. The fronds are grayish-green, tinted with purple, with dark purple stalks and midribs.…

Atriplex
(Mountain Spinach, Orach) These plants form handsome, annual or tender perennial shrubs that are grown for ornament or as a vegetable. Those grown for decoration are only hardy in mild climates. A. Halimus forms a shrub, 3 to 4 feet high with silvery-gray foliage. It grows well by the seaside in mild climates. A. Breweri and A. canescens also have gray leaves. These plants should be pruned in March to maintain a shapely appearance. A. hortensis, Mountain Spinach or Orach, is a tall, frost-hardy …

Aucuba
(Gold-Dust Tree) This group consists of three, evergreen shrubs that are natives of eastern Asia and the Himalayas. These shrubs are compact and rounded, growing from 6 to 10 feet high. They are mainly grown for their attractive foliage, which is especially pretty on the variegated types. They produce small flowers, often unnoticeable, that are followed by bunches of red berries, each containing a single seed. Male and female flowers are produced on different plants. They are nice plants to grow…

Audouinia
This is a South African, heathlike shrub that is planted outside in mild climates such as that of California, or in cool, sunny greenhouses where weather doesn't permit outdoor cultivation. A capitata can grow up to 2 feet tall and it produces crimson flowers in spiked heads.…

Australian Bluebell Creeper
(Sollya) This is an evergreen, tender, climbing plant that is found in Australia. It has thin, woody, twining stems that are covered with both narrow, lance-shaped to oblong leaves and divided leaves. Their pretty blue flowers are shaped like little bells, a half-inch long. They grow in pendent clusters throughout the summer. In the mild climates of the South, they may be cultivated outdoors as a vine or ground cover. Sollyas grow about 6 feet tall. They are good for growing in greenhouses that …

Australian Honeysuckle
(Banksia) These are tender, evergreen shrubs and small trees native to Australia. They are grown for their ornamental foliage. The leaves are green on top and silvery-white underneath. B. grandis has large, divided leaves; B. integrifolia has oblong to lanceolate leaves and B. ericifolia has very narrow leaves. These plants can be grown outdoors in mild climates such as southern California's or in greenhouses.…

Austrocedrus
(Chilean Cedar) This group consists of one evergreen conifer. A. chilensis (Chilean Cedar) is a handsome, slow-growing tree for mild climates. It develops a columnar head of branches. The branchlets are flattened and divided to give a mossy or ferny appearance. The sea green leaves are scale-like and borne in unequal, opposite, V-shaped pairs. This tree produces small, solitary cones.…

Avocado
(Persea) These small trees are mostly natives of South and Central America, but are also found in the Canary Islands and in southeast Asia. P. Borbonia (the Bull Bay or Red Bay) is a native of the United States from Delaware to Florida and is sometimes planted for ornament. P. palustris is found from North Carolina to Florida and Texas. The species of Persea grown for ornament will grow easily in any type of soil. They have large, leathery leaves, but if grown indoors, their leaves are much thin…

Azalea
(Rhododendron) This huge group of evergreen and leaf losing trees and shrubs are found wild in Asia, Europe, and North America. Hundreds of wild kinds have been found and numerous hybrids have been developed. These plants vary greatly in growth. Some grow into moderately sized trees and some into little shrubs or bushes that are great for the rock garden. The leaves of some may be as small as Thyme leaves and on the other extreme may be 20 or 24 inches long and 6 to 8 inches wide. Some flowers a…

Azara
(Oromo) This group consists of tender, evergreen shrubs or small trees that are natives of Argentina and Chile. A. microphylla is a small tree with sprays of small, lustrous, dark green leaves. In early spring, tiny, yellow, vanilla-scented flowers are produced on the undersides of the twigs. The twigs of foliage are suitable for indoor decoration and last well in water. A. serrata is a large shrub with upright growth. It has oval, glossy, serrated leaves and clusters of pretty orange-yellow flo…

Azolla
(Fairy Moss) This tiny, floating, aquatic plant, commonly known as Fairy Moss, is a native of tropical and North America. It has small, plump, pinnately branched, bright-green leaves, which resemble little Fern fronds. These become tinted with bronze in full sun and in the fall. Thin roots trail below these miniature leaves.…

Aztekium
This group consists of only two, slow-growing cacti native to Mexico. These spherical, grayish-green or green cacti have alternating main and secondary ribs. The main ribs have fuzzy areoles; the secondary ones do not. A. ritteri is a clustering species that produces flattened stems, up to 11/2 inches in diameter, from a thick taproot. The stems have grooves along the ribs. The depressed crown is covered with spines, which fall off as the plant ages. The tiny, white or pale pink, funnel-shaped f…

Babiana
(Baboon Flower, Baboon Root) This group consists of about 61, tender, deciduous plants that grow from corms. These natives of South Africa are commonly known as Baboon Flower and Baboon Root because baboons love to eat their corms. Baboon Flowers produce fans of short, slender, pleated, fuzzy leaves and spikes of colorful, fragrant flowers in late spring and early summer. Each corm produces numerous flower stalks and each stalk bears 10 or more flowers in white or shades of yellow, blue, a…

Baboon Flower
(Babiana) This group consists of about 61, tender, deciduous plants that grow from corms. These natives of South Africa are commonly known as Baboon Flower and Baboon Root because baboons love to eat their corms. Baboon Flowers produce fans of short, slender, pleated, fuzzy leaves and spikes of colorful, fragrant flowers in late spring and early summer. Each corm produces numerous flower stalks and each stalk bears 10 or more flowers in white or shades of yellow, blue, and mauve. B. strict…

Baboon Root
(Babiana) This group consists of about 61, tender, deciduous plants that grow from corms. These natives of South Africa are commonly known as Baboon Flower and Baboon Root because baboons love to eat their corms. Baboon Flowers produce fans of short, slender, pleated, fuzzy leaves and spikes of colorful, fragrant flowers in late spring and early summer. Each corm produces numerous flower stalks and each stalk bears 10 or more flowers in white or shades of yellow, blue, and mauve. B. strict…

Baby Rubber Plant
(Peperomia) These tropical perennials are grown for their ornamental foliage. They are mostly natives of tropical America. They are compact and small and usually do not exceed 12' in height. They vary considerably in appearance. Some have threadlike, trailing stems and some have fleshy, stout stems. The leaves are smooth and fleshy and may be oval with the leafstalk at or near the center of the leaf blade, or they may be heart-shaped or lance-shaped; their size may vary from 1-4 inches long. The…

Baby'S Breath
(Galium) This group of plants is includes hardy and tender herbaceous perennials, which are natives of Europe and most of which have been naturalized in North America. The name is derived from gala, milk, and refers to the fact that G. verum has been used to curdle milk. G. odoratum, Sweet Woodruff, is a hardy perennial, which grows 12 to18 inches high. This plant gives off an aroma resembling freshly mown hay and May wine. Sweet Woodruff makes a lovely ground cover. Its rough-edged leave…

Baccharis
(Groundsel Bush) This group consists of deciduous and evergreen small trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants from North and South America. B. patagonica is a tender, medium-sized, evergreen shrub that has red shoots and small, glossy, dark green leaves. In late spring, tiny, yellowish-white flower heads are produced singly in the upper leaf axils. This quick-growing shrub can be grown near the sea. B. halimifolia (Groundsel Bush) is a hardy native of the eastern U.S. and is found growing near the …

Bachelor'S-Button
(Centaurea) These are hardy, herbaceous, perennial and annual plants that are natives of many European countries, in North America and other numerous places. Some of the herbaceous kinds make very nice border plants. Centaureas belong to the Daisy family, Compositae. The annual Cornflower, C. Cyanus, also known as Bachelor's-Button, grows 1 to 11/2 feet high. This plant produces blue, rose or white flowers that may be single or double. They are great for cut flowers. C. americana is a pretty ann…

Balfour Aralia
(Polyscias) This group consists of about 80 tropical shrubs and trees that are native to New Zealand, tropical Asia and the Pacific Islands. They are excellent as houseplants in cold climates and as hedges in very warm ones. These plants are also excellent as Bonsai specimens. These plants are valued for their decorative foliage, which is finely divided and in some species, beautifully variegated. P. fruticosa (Ming Aralia) can grow up to 8 feet high (though it can be kept small by pruning) and …