Monday, August 30, 2010

Things That Make You Go "Hmmm. . . "

Can you guess what it is?

I'll give you a few hints. It was started early this spring from seeds obtained from a swap. Hmmm . . . can't remember for sure if it was Monica's mail swap, or MBT's garden show swap.

I've never seen a variegated form of this plant, and the blooms are normally completely different. Started from seed, it may take up to 3-5 years before it blooms. It would be unusual for this species to bloom the first season. Remember, this seed was started this spring.

Here's an example of another seedling in the packet. All the seeds looked basically the same, with the slight color variations normally seen in these seeds - anything from light brown, to nearly black. (The seed pods are black at maturity.)

Here are more hints: This is a native plant, and the blue-blooming variety was recently (I won't give away which year,) chosen as Perennial Plant of the Year.

Here's more of the plant in question. Initially this seedling had plain foliage just like the others started at the same time from the same seed packet. A few weeks ago a few top leaves suddenly developed the white edges, flower buds formed, and within a few days, the tiny blooms opened.

Did you guess what it is? Have you ever tried starting them from seeds? If so have you ever seen variegation and blooms like this before on your seedlings? I wonder what will happen to this plant if I decide to put it in the garden. Will it continue to develop variegated foliage? Will it survive the winter? Will it have these uncharacteristic blooms again next year? Is it a stray seed of some other plant that has the same kind of foliage as what I think it is that snuck into the seed packet, and not really what I think it is? Do I have some kind of unusual sport or hybrid? Perhaps only time will tell.


  1. Based on your hint about the Perennial Plant Association's award, I would guess this is Baptisia, but the seedling looks nothing like the plant I'm familiar with, so maybe I'm wrong. If it is, I think you may have a new cultivar here! I tried to start my Baptisia seed through winter sowing, but it didn't germinate. I also had a host of seedlings that were mis-labelled, so I wound up with quite a few surprises this summer:)

  2. Hmmmm :o).... I' really don't know and I'm curious what it could be. I hope you will tell me.
    Take care

  3. I would guess baptisia too based on black seed pods, but like Rose says, this doesn't look like baptisia. (P.S. Look at you posting all the time now! And look at me commenting! yay, us! ;-)

  4. Excellent guess Rose! It was in a packet of white baptisia seeds. The non-variegated foliage looks exactly like baptisia foliage. It's about the same size, and the stem looks the same as the other seedlings.

    The seeds took forever to germinate. I almost gave up on them. But finally, after about 6 weeks they started to sprout, and continued sprouting for several weeks after the first one emerged.

    Maybe it is a hybrid or cultivar of some sort. I've read that baptisia can be a bit promiscuous! I hope it survives the winter. I really want to see how this plant might develop, and what it will turn into!

    Hi Alex, Rose guessed correctly - supposedly it's a baptisia. The blue form was chosen as the Perennial Plant Association's 2010 'Perennial Plant of the Year.' I was really happy to see the pick, since it is a native plant.

    Monica, it looks like baptisia halfway up, just like the others. Once the foliage starts getting variegated, it looks a lot less like baptisia, and when we get to the blooms, well, they look nothing at all like baptisia! It's very curious indeed.

    Yay us! ;) I have a feeling I'll be slowing down a bit soon though.

  5. Definitely a baptisia, but wow this one is unique! If you can get these to come true from seeds I would love to trade for them!

  6. Hi Rose, it sure is unique! Since I have cream (Native Seed Gardeners,) white, and blue baptisia, when they eventually start blooming there may be some mixing going on. But if this very unusual one survives and eventually blooms, (fingers crossed!) I'll be happy to save seeds for you. It will be interesting seeing what happens with this plant!

  7. I would never have guessed, Linda, but it's lovely and certainly unique! Our garden guru, Rose, is a whiz! Happy last day of August :)

  8. I don't know Linda~the flowers are nothing pea like or fabaceae~i wondered if it was in the asclepias family? But no matter~it's absolutely delightful! gail

  9. It's so unusual, Joey. I'm curious to see what becomes of this plant.

    Quite an enigma, Gail! The flowers are very un-pea-like. There were only a few seeds, and they all looked the same, except for some color variations. They all looked just like any other baptisia seeds I've ever seen.

  10. Anonymous11:22 AM

    Euphorbia marginata?

  11. I definitely think Layanee is right. Euphorbia marginata. :)

  12. Anonymous1:15 PM

    Hi Linda, it goes by the common name of Snow On The Mountain and is an annual. The seed must have snuck into the packet!

  13. Layanee! That's it! Thanks for identifying the mystery plant. I know of it, and even have some seeds from Kylee that I haven't tried yet. I just looked at the seeds - a lot different from baptisia seeds, but similar in size and color.

    I think so too Dee. Thanks!

    Further reinforcement for Michael Pollan's theories regarding how plants manipulate people, Frances! That sneaky euphorbia!

  14. Aw, darn - I was already daydreaming about making a million bucks patenting a new, variegated form of baptisia! ;~)

  15. Whatever it is, you have started quite a ruckus.

    It seems like a keeper to me.

  16. I did think of it being a baptista, but it has such an unusual shape, very distorted. I wonder if it will continue on this path or become more of what we expect.


  17. Anonymous9:54 PM

    It is very pretty. Like Monica I too am pleasantly surprised at the prolific garden blogging lately. I always love the inherent intelligence in your style of garden blogging.

    P.S. I think it may have been Monica's swap 'cause I don't remember anyone having baptista in our garden show swap.

  18. I agree with the snow on the mountain. It was my immediate thought but as you went on I thought perhaps a sedum. Though I couldn't remember when one was Plant of the Year. lol

  19. LOL Rosey! Now that I know what it really is, I put it in the garden. I hope I don't regret it. I've heard and read that they can be very prolific self-seeders.

    Eileen, it seems really small for snow on the mountain, but after seeing photos on the web, there's no question in my mind that's what it is.

    I think it's pretty too MBT. Thanks for the kind words! I think you're correct - it was Monica's swap. There were a few packets of white baptisia seeds in her swap.

    I think so too Tina. It's such a coincidence that the foliage and form looks so much like the baptisia seedlings.

    I was regretting not starting the seeds Kylee sent me. I just ran out of room in the basement under the light, though now I'm sure I could have just scattered the seeds in the garden. With all the rain we had this spring they would surely have sprouted.

  20. No clue, but it sure is a attractive plant.

  21. It almost looks like a euphorbia...


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