Thursday, February 2, 2012

Gas Plant

Dicthamnus albus

A very long-lived ( up to 100 + years ), tough, densely-clumping, woody-based perennial, reaching up to 5 x 4 ( rarely over 4 ) feet, that is native to temperate Eurasia ( Germany to the Caucasus; south to Italy to the western Himalayas ). Dicthamnus is a genus within the larger Rue family.
The aromatic pinnate leaves are composed of 9 to 12 toothed oval to elliptical leaflets, up to 3.2 inches in length. The attractive foliage is glossy deep green. The leaves may cause photodermatitis if touched during sunny weather.
The pink or white flowers, up to 1 inch across, are borne on erect inflorescences up to 12 inches in length, during early to mid summer.
They are followed by seed capsules that explode when they ripen.
All parts of the plant release a vapor that can be ignited during summer heat. It does not stay lit for long, however this is a most unusual feature among plants.
Hardy zones 2 to 8 in full sun to partial shade on fertile, well drained soil. Drought tolerant ( even thriving in Kansas ), it actually prefers soils that are somewhat dry, cold winters and hot summers. Easy to grow, once established, the Gas Plant is almost never bothered by insect pests, disease or deer. Slow to establish, it may take 3 years after planting to put on signicant growth. Propagation is from seed sown in a cold frame during late summer or autumn. The seedlings can be transplanted while very small. Do not divide as they hate root disturbance.

* photos taken on Aug 1 2013 in Stratford, Ontario

* historic archive photo

* highly recommended videos found on internet



'Purpureus'
Light purplish-pink flowers.

'Ruber'
Rosy-purple flowers, otherwise identical.

Dicthamnus angustifolius
Similar to D. albus but more compact ( up to 3.3 feet in height ) and is native to grasslands from central Asia to northwest China ).
The flowers are bright pink.

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