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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What is Michigan Heather?

This spring, Ellen gave me some garden plants. This one has been quite a mystery. It was given to her under the name of "Michigan Heather." I have scoured the internet since that time to try to find out what it could be, with no success. So I had to wait till it bloomed to be sure. I had a suspicion (and I was right), but that's like saying you knew something all along, but no one can believe you since you were never forthcoming about your guess until all was revealed.

Here is the mystery flower!

obedient plant

Do any of you gardeners recognize it now? It has an odd little feature which gives it the common name of Obedient Plant. If you push a blossom from side to side on the stalk, it will stay right where you move it! It's as if each little bloom was mounted on a moveable joint of its own.

If you find the right blossom, you can see that I've moved it in the mashup below.

obedient plant

So there it is- Michigan Heather is Obedient Plant, Physostegia virginiana. It's in the mint family, and can grow to 4 feet tall. Mine is about 2 feet- lousy soil. But I'll take it, it's blooming!

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Secondary Roads said...

What an interesting plant. I don't think I've seen it before.

wiseacre said...

Pushing an innocent flower around, you should be proud of yourself. (for showing us why the plant is called Obedient)

Ann said...

I've never heard of it but that is really amazing. It's pretty too

jeanlivingsimple said...

It reminds me of a Turtle-head....but I'm not certain. Looks like a keeper neither the less.

Lin said...

I've got a more purple version in my yard. Seems like it is blooming late this year.

Sharkbytes said...

Chuck- it is a fairly common garden plant, but it can be a wildflower too.

wiseacre- that's me... cruelty to plants

Ann- the blooms last a long time, making it extra attractive to mediocre gardeners like me.

Jean- not even a close relative of the turtlehead (Chelone glabra), but it is sometimes also called False Dragonhead

Lin- Yes, the color varies from purple to almost white. I think this light magenta is the most common, though.

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