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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Undercover Globemallow

Some of you may know Dorothy, the Berry Center's associate director.  She's a native plant guru - slash non-native plant bouncer - who broke the undercover identity of the Sphaeralcea munroana, the horticultural variety of Sphaeralcea coccinea.  As you may have read earlier, Sphaeralcea coccinea is our lovely native plant called Cowboy's Delight or Scarlet Globemallow.  Dorothy noted there were two species that were both labeled Sphaeralcea coccinea, but they had obvious visual differences.  

Exhibit A:

The native Sphaeralcea coccinea is shown on the left, the horticultural variety of munroana appears on the right.

The Culprits:

In the photos above, the plant on the left is Sphaeralcea coccinea, the Cowboy's Delight or Scarlet Globemallow that is native to the Laramie basin.  It has those very lobed, hand-shaped leaves and cantaloupe colored flowers.  The one on the right however, is Sphaeralcea munroana - very obviously not the same species.  This is the horticultural variety of Scarlet Globemallow, which has been bred for gardeners and landscapers.  

It turns out, an out of town plant supplier who grew many of the plants for the green roof had mislabeled some of the flats and sent us both.  Honest mistake, but unlucky for munroana, as our inextinguishable desire for a native green roof resulted in its removal.

Dorothy shows no mercy for the non-native plants.  Well, some mercy, as we kept the plants for give-aways this weekend when the Laramie Garden Club stops at the Berry Prairie on their annual garden tour.

In pulling up the munroana, we were able to determine that this plant, and presumably others, are developing a fine root system! 
The rootball of one of the pulled munroana plants.

Here are the munroanas, shame-faced in their line up.

The Replacements:

To replace the sneaky munroanas, Dorothy grew seedlings of Penstemon glaber v. aplina, or Smooth Penstemon, seeds of which she collected on Pumpkin Vine Pass (south of Laramie on Hwy 287).  The seedlings are growing in little pots on the green roof now (the left side of the tray below). 

Seedlings of Penstemon glaber v. alpina, or Smooth Penstemon, are almost ready for planting on the Berry Prairie.

Smooth Penstemon, or Penstemon glaber v. alpina

And when it's established and blooming, the Smooth Penstemon should look something like this:

Penstemon glaber v. alpina in bloom.

No offense non-natives, but the Berry Prairie is for native plants only.  We're still on track for our goal of recreating a Laramie-basin-esque prairie!
Written by Brenna Wanous, Berry Center


  1. excellent post! thank you, berry prairie folks!

  2. Thanks for stopping by! Let us know if you're interested in learning more about a different topic - we're open to suggestions! :)

    -Berry Prairie folks


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