Zinnia is a herbaceous plant that belongs to the aster family (Asteraceae). There are 20 species and more than 100 cultivated varieties of Zinnia. Zinnias are annual plants that can bring an explosion of colours in a garden. They come in eye-catching hues. Flowers are solitary. They can be singles with petals arranged in a single row or semi-doubles or doubles with layers of petals. These plants require only basic requirements like well-drained soil and sunlight to grow. Zinnia is named after Johann Gottfried Zinn, famous German botanist who described this plant. Zinnia symbolizes friendship in the language of flowers. Did you know? Zinnia is one of the flowers grown in space. In January 2016, NASA released images of a Zinnia flower blooming aboard the International Space Station.
Solanaceae, also known as the potato family or nightshade family, is one of the most utilized and important plant families. The members of the family are found throughout the world but are abundant in the tropical regions. It includes some of the most important food plants. Solanaceae has many ornamental plants also. Here, I am presenting flowers of food crops or vegetables of the family. The common vegetables of the family are potato (Solanum tuberosum), eggplant or brinjal (Solanum melongena), tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) and chili peppers (Capsicumspecies).
Potatoes are carbohydrate-rich food and are important in the diet of many people around the world. Tomato is prized for its red, fleshy, vitamin-rich fruits. Less commonly eaten is the eggplant and it’s large, purplish, edible fruits are used in Indian dishes. The numerous varieties of chili are used to give a hot, spicy flavor to many foods. All photographs are from my garden.
Purslane is a summer plant with pretty, delicate flowers that show off with many colours. The plant is a succulent herb and mostly appears clustered. The stem is prostrate and trailing with flat, fleshy, spatulate leaves. Ornamental purslane produces flowers all summer and in warmer climates even in winter. Purslane blooms open around 10:00 in the morning and close for good at various times in the day, depending on the temperature conditions. Portulaca umbraticola and Portulaca oleracea are two of the ornamental purslanes you see hanging in baskets and in flower beds, giving colour and bringing in cheer. Purslane was grown in India originally and provided nutrition and reported health benefits. The common purslane is a ‘weed’ (purslane that is not ornamental) and is a leafy vegetable. Some other common names of purslane include garden purslane, moss rose, little hogweed, and wild portulaca.
Bougainvillea is an ornamental shrub that climbs up a support, if left unpruned. They produce showy bunches of ‘flowers’ that come in a variety of colours. Flowering Bougainvillea plants are really a visual treat and adds colour to the place.
The actual flower of the plant is small and generally white. Flowers are seen in cluster of three and is surrounded by three or six bracts (modified leaves) with bright colours, including pink, magenta, purple, red, orange, white, or yellow.
Currently, there are over 300 varieties of bougainvillea around the world. Many are hybrids developed by genetic as well as vegetative methods like budding.
Bougainvillea is the official flower of some states in USA like, California and Guam. It is also the national flower in Grenada. Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea glabra) is also known as Paper flower.
Bougainvillea flowers are sources of natural dyes.
Aloe flowers vary in size, shape and color. They are held in a racemose inflorescence. The common species is Aloe vera and its flowers show variations depending on the climatic conditions where it grows.
The Portuguese squill (Scilla peruviana) is a perennial that produces large striking blue conical-shaped inflorescence. The star-shaped flowers last for several weeks. These plants propagate from bulbs.
Ornamental garlic plants can be grown to get pretty blooms in globose inflorescence. Garlic flowers have a green stem that bear lime green, pink, or white spherical capsule of miniature flowers. No marks for guessing their smell!! 🙂
And now, the Crucifix orchids (Epidendrum radicans). These have thick leaves and long, thin stems with long lasting clusters of flowers. The common name refers to the modified petal that resembles a small cross.
Bright and vivid, arrest attention! That is what these red flowers do!
Red Mountain Flame (Delosperma sp.) is a highly improved variety of Ice plant that can transform a strip of land as a ground cover. The daisy-like, intense red flowers have yellow stamen and are borne by succulent evergreen branches.
True to their name, Bottlebrush plants (Callistemon sp.) have spikes of flowers that bloom at the ends of the stems, bearing a strong resemblance to a bottle brush. These shrubs bloom with flowers in shades of red.
The Canna lily (Canna indica) is a perennial with large foliage and showy flowers. They are easy to grow, and their flowers offer long-lasting colour in the garden. The plants are propagated from rhizomes.
And the ubiquitous Lantana plants (Lantana camara) have rounded clusters of small, brightly-colored flowers. There are a variety of colours other than the red. Lantana is considered as an invasive weed.
The Lily family, Liliaceae, originally consisted of about 4000 plus known species. Latest classification has organized these into more compact, related families.
Lilies are showy monocot flowers. The plants are herbaceous perennials, propagating from underground bulbs. The flowers have six, colored tepals (not petals) in two whorls of three each. Though lilies produce seeds, they are not viable.
Lilies are widely distributed, mostly in warm temperate and tropical regions. They are valuable ornamental plants and are traded as cut flowers. The oil extracted from lilies has healing and softening properties for sensitive skin. Especially, when the lily fragrance oil is mixed with Calendula oil, it works wonderfully.
Lily flowers stand for love, purity, femininity, unity and transience. We will look at a few flowers that bear the name Lily; may not be ‘True Lilies’ technically, according to new classification.
Ixora plant is related to coffee plant and belongs to the Family Rubiaceae. Ixora is native to Asia, now widely seen in tropical gardens.
There are about 400 species spread across Africa, India to Southern Asia. They differ in leaf size, plant height, flower size and flower colour. This plant which blooms throughout the year is easy to grow.
Plants are normally sturdy shrubs of 7-8 ft height and the dwarfs are of 1-2 ft. Dwarfs have small leaves and are bushy. Ixora flowers last well when put into a vase with water, making an attractive home arrangement.
Ixora flowers, leaves and roots are used to treat various ailments in the Indian traditional system of medicine, the Ayurveda, especially that of the dwarf varieties.
With purple tied to royalty and ceremony, purple flowers represent dignity, pride and success. An arrangement filled with purple blooms represents accomplishment and admiration.
Having said that, here I am with four deep purple-coloured flowers. No… not the ones that are generally used in flower arrangements!
Purple princess flowers (Tibouchina semidecandra) and Bush clock vine flowers (Thunbergia erecta) are produced on sturdy shrubs. They are attractive hedge plants in any garden. Butterfly-pea flower (Clitoria ternatea) and Purple morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea) are climbers. They are excellent for garden fencing.
Purple butterfly-pea flower is well known for its use as a caffeine free beverage (tea), widely used in many Asian countries.
The genus Clerodendrum is native to tropical and warm temperate regions of the world, with most of the species occurring in southern Asia and tropical Africa. Many species are widely distributed throughout the continents.
Most of the species are ornamental with bright and attractive flowers. The flowers provide food for butterflies, Sunbirds, and Hummingbirds. Many species of this genus have been described in various indigenous systems of medicine and are used in preparation of folklore medicines for the treatment of various life-threatening diseases. Many of Clerodendrum genus have been very well studied for their chemical constituents and biological activities.
Clerodendrum belongs to the family Lamiaceae and are mostly woody shrubs.