About Good Scents

The cut flower business ended in 2011 but I continue to post other items about gardening.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Doronicum orientale (Leopard's Bane)

I don't know why Doronicum orientale is the Bane of Leopards. I read somewhere that the roots were used to poison arrow tips, which I assume were used to fend off leopards. Whatever the reason, it is one of my favorite common names - so much more fun than one like 'Bell flower'.
Leopard's Bane was one of the first perennials I ever grew. I had read about it in Patrick Lima's The Harrowsmith Perennial Garden and bought plants at Plymouth Nursery along with a number of other perennials. I don't remember any of the other things I bought but I remember Leopard's Bane because of the name and because it was the first of those perennials to bloom the following spring. I cut one of the flowers and excitedly showed it to a non-gardening friend. He couldn't understand what I was so excited about, saying, "It's a flower", like he was talking to someone who'd never seen one before. Right then I realized there is a fundamental difference between gardeners and non-gardeners.

Yellow Doronicum with tulips and white bleeding heart.

Doronicum orientale is a yellow daisy about the color of a dandelion and is fairly ordinary looking. It is useful as a cut flower because it blooms in May and appears before any other daisy-like flowers are around. If it bloomed in the summer when yellow daisies are everywhere it would merit little attention, at least from me.

Unlike most other cut flowers, Leopard's Bane will grow in partial shade. They grow better in moist soil but will tolerate some dryness if they have shade. You can usually find plants at Coleman's in Ypsilanti and they are easy to start from seed. Most Doronicum plants you find now are from the seed strain 'Little Leo'. It is around 12 inches tall and is shorter than the other seed strains. The cut flower varieties are 'Finesse', 'Magnificum' and 'Goldcut' which are usually 12 to 18 inches tall. The flowers of all these strains look very similar except 'Finesse' has needle shaped petals. All the cut flower strains will tend to flop a bit if they aren't staked which explains the popularity of the shorter 'Little Leo'.

No comments: