Posts Tagged ‘Ivory’

Biennial/Monocarpic Perennial. Zone 3. Campanulaceae. Bosnia and Herzegovina. Syn. Campanula hofmannii. A.k.a. PENDULOUS BELLFLOWER, HOFMANN’S RINGED BELLFLOWER.

Most people are not terribly familiar with any of the Symphyandra, for while they are widely grown in botanic and alpine gardens, the genus is rather rare in the mainstream plant trade. But there are many keen gardeners who grow the various species with great pleasure, including well-known British Columbia garden writer, Helen Chestnut. Here is what she had to say in her column in the Victoria Times Colonist, July 17, 2008:

The description of a Campanula relative, Symphyandra hofmannii (pendulous bellflower), in a 2006 seed catalogue caught my attention. Placed in the front garden early last summer, the plants resulting from those seeds are pure enchantment this summer. They have grown to form slender pyramids of soft leaves and stems heavily hung with large, creamy white, bell-shaped flowers. My plants are about 40 cm (16 inches) high. They are very unusual, and utterly charming.

“Charming” is indeed an apt word for this quietly pretty flower, in any of its dozen or so species. Symphyandra hofmannii is particularly nice.

The plant is monocarpic, which means it dies after flowering and setting seed, and therefore is generally classed among the biennials.

The first year long-leaved, rather wrinkly foliage rosettes form. The second year brings the bloom. Many upright-to-gently-arching 12 to 18 inch long stems arise from the basal clump. These are lined with inflated, down-facing buds, which open into a succession of large, ivory white blooms for a long period in summer.

Symphyandra hofmannii is happy in sun to part shade, in good soil with average moisture. It will set seed generously, and may be allowed to self sow to perpetuate itself in the garden. Clipping off the bloom stalks before seed matures may allow another season of bloom, but then again your plant may decide to expire without replicating itself, having done its best to bloom itself to death as its nature intends it to, so I don’t recommend this.

A note on nomenclature:

Symphyandra is as close as close to Campanula. In fact, by the time of this writing, the genera may again be combined, as botanists play their endless game of familial and generic splitting and lumping, aided (encouraged?) by botanical DNA analysts.

What separates the sheep from the goats – er – the Symphyandra from the Campanula – is a small detail regarding the anthers, the parts of a flower’s stamen which produces pollen. In Campanula the anthers are separate. In Symphyandra they are united to form a tube surrounding the style. (I should probably stop here, unless I want to add diagrams. Probably too much information already!) In any event, this explains the genus name, from the Greek symphio – “to grow together” – and andros – “anther”.

The specific name commemorates botanist Florian Hoffmann, who collected this plant in the mountains of Yugoslavia in the late 19th Century; the name was first assigned in 1881.

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