Shade Gardening forum: Delightful small genus for shade: Vancouveria

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Name: Mark McDonough
Massachusetts (Zone 5a)
Region: Massachusetts Enjoys or suffers cold winters Garden Procrastinator Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Foliage Fan
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AntMan01
Feb 1, 2018 7:45 PM CST
I'm a real fan of the small genus Vancouveria in the Barberry family, only 3 species in this genus of woodland plants from Western USA, related to the Asian genus Epimedium.

I'll start with the best species (just my opinion), Vancouveria chrysantha, the Golden Inside-out Flower. It grows in mixed evergreen forests and thickets, low elevations and up into the mountains, in northern California and southern Oregon.

Took me years to find a commercial source for this plant, here are some photos of my plant's first flowering in June 2017. If you do manage to find a nursery selling this, be sure to give it enough moisture, it is intolerant of drought, unlike its white-flowered sibling V. hexandra, which is very drought tolerant.

Vancouveria chrysantha:
whole plant, stems about 2', taller than I imagined


closer view of the tall stem with lots of flowers & buds


even closer view of the tall stem and flowers


close-up of flowers


close-up of flowers, little golden parachutes Smiling


close-up of flowers, from above, showing arrangement of the sepals.


In July the seed pods are forming

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Name: Dick Strever
No.Calif amongst the Redwoods (Zone 9a)
Region: Pacific Northwest I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: California
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Strever
Feb 2, 2018 12:24 PM CST
very nice Mark
i live where it is supposed to come from (http://www.calflora.org/entry/...) and i have looked for it several times and not been successful, it is seems to be rather rare. my 5 acres are covered with the Vancouveria (planipetala i think) the small white one. i think i will try looking again this spring.

Name: Dick Strever
No.Calif amongst the Redwoods (Zone 9a)
Region: Pacific Northwest I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: California
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Strever
Feb 2, 2018 12:38 PM CST
i think i will also get some images of the small planipetala for the data base this spring
it is no where near as pretty or tall as your chrysantha
Name: Mark McDonough
Massachusetts (Zone 5a)
Region: Massachusetts Enjoys or suffers cold winters Garden Procrastinator Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Foliage Fan
Birds Seed Starter Hybridizer Sempervivums
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AntMan01
Feb 2, 2018 2:05 PM CST
Strever said:i think i will also get some images of the small planipetala for the data base this spring
it is no where near as pretty or tall as your chrysantha


Hello Dick, I was looking around this forum and noticed there were photos for V. hexandra only, so I decided to step in and add to the database with the other 2 species. I do grow V. planipetala, yes the flowers are practically microscopic, but who doesn't like those little duck-feet leaves. Frankly I didn't expect it could make it through a New England winter, but it came through fine and flowered. This year it's been a fairly tough winter, nights as low as -12F and daytime highs of 8F, so once again thinking of this Vancouveria.

Regarding V. chrysantha, I've heard from a reliable resource that much of what is cultivated as V. chrysantha, particularly in Europe, represents a hybrid between chrysantha and hexandra, the clue being that the flowers are light or pale yellow. Photos of chrysantha in the wild show some color variation, but most are a deep golden yellow. So my grand experiment with Vancouveria is to see if I can replicate such a cross. Smiling

Avatar: Jovibarba x nixonii 'Jowan'
Allium 'Millenium' - 2018 Perennial Plant of the Year:
http://www.perennialplant.org/...
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Name: Mark McDonough
Massachusetts (Zone 5a)
Region: Massachusetts Enjoys or suffers cold winters Garden Procrastinator Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Foliage Fan
Birds Seed Starter Hybridizer Sempervivums
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AntMan01
Feb 2, 2018 2:45 PM CST
Common names for Vancouveria planipetala are Redwood-ivy, redwood inside-out flower, found in redwood forests in California to southern Oregon. I received a plant via mail order, from Keeping It Green Nursery, back in April 2016. It survived a New England winter, but contrary to claims that deer and rabbits don't eat this plant, rabbits did eat the flowering stems and I have to keep wire cages around the plants.

This is a very small-flowered plant, nearly microscopic flowers, but a cute plant nonetheless, with glossy green duck-feet leaves.

The plant fresh from mail-order box, arrived in great shape, beautiful shiny leaves.


Unpotted, just look at those sturdy rhizomes, need to plant this where there's room to spread.


Planted out, about 6 weeks later it started to flower, highly glandular stems.


Close-up of the flowering stem


Close-up of the flowering stem, another view


View in January 2017, ground is frozen solid, foliage is a glossy brown, only semi-evergreen here, but the rhizomes seem hardy enough and resprouted in spring.


Avatar: Jovibarba x nixonii 'Jowan'
Allium 'Millenium' - 2018 Perennial Plant of the Year:
http://www.perennialplant.org/...
https://www.waltersgardens.com...
Name: Dick Strever
No.Calif amongst the Redwoods (Zone 9a)
Region: Pacific Northwest I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: California
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Strever
Feb 2, 2018 2:56 PM CST
love the leaves of planipetala and now i will try more diligently to find chrysantha
wonder if the (AFFINITY to serpentine soil:) comment has any importance ? http://www.calflora.org/cgi-bi...
want to see the deep yellow Smiling
Name: Dick Strever
No.Calif amongst the Redwoods (Zone 9a)
Region: Pacific Northwest I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: California
Image
Strever
Feb 2, 2018 3:26 PM CST
i decided to take some picts of what Vancouveria-planipetala looks like today Feb 2, grabbed my camera and went outside and instantly headed to the upper property where they all are, made me think why are none on lower property? wonder if it has to do with the serpentine thing?
they are being overtaken by oregano oxalis
Thumb of 2018-02-02/Strever/4e0c86

need to move some down to lower garden area and see if they survive
Thumb of 2018-02-02/Strever/88cfb2

someone likes their taste
Thumb of 2018-02-02/Strever/cd6d14

Name: Mark McDonough
Massachusetts (Zone 5a)
Region: Massachusetts Enjoys or suffers cold winters Garden Procrastinator Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Foliage Fan
Birds Seed Starter Hybridizer Sempervivums
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AntMan01
Feb 4, 2018 8:43 AM CST
Strever said:i decided to take some picts of what Vancouveria-planipetala looks like today Feb 2, grabbed my camera and went outside and instantly headed to the upper property where they all are, made me think why are none on lower property? wonder if it has to do with the serpentine thing?
they are being overtaken by oregano oxalis


Dick, how handy that you can walk out on your own property and find V. planipetala growing wild, do you see much variation. Is the fresh spring foliage lustrous? I was surprised when I got my mail-order plant just how shiny the leaves were. In your photos I noticed the leaf munching too, the circular nibbles might be weevils, vines weevils are here but not a serious problem, they munch circular cut-outs on leaf edges on my Epimediums.

Avatar: Jovibarba x nixonii 'Jowan'
Allium 'Millenium' - 2018 Perennial Plant of the Year:
http://www.perennialplant.org/...
https://www.waltersgardens.com...
Name: Dick Strever
No.Calif amongst the Redwoods (Zone 9a)
Region: Pacific Northwest I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: California
Image
Strever
Feb 4, 2018 2:04 PM CST
Mark
i was surprised by you photo of the shiny leaves, i have never seen such.
and i have not noticed much variation but not looking for it either
the plants are nibbled in an area and 10 ft away none are so who ??
i will most definitely look harder this year for the golden yellow for my garden
the planipetala is so short it only looks like ground cover
Name: Mary
Lake Stevens, WA (Zone 8a)
Near Seattle
Bookworm Garden Photography Plant and/or Seed Trader Plays in the sandbox Region: Pacific Northwest Seed Starter
Winter Sowing
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Pistil
Feb 5, 2018 11:52 AM CST
Your gardens and plants and photos are terrific, AntMan. I planted some Vancouveria hexandra in a dry mostly shady spot a few years ago, I think for me here near Seattle it will make a nice drought-tolerant groundcover. I heard it can be invasive, maybe that would be a good thing. The native range only gets to just south of here by about 50 milesper the USDA Plants Database, but I figure with climate change the range may be moving northward so I kind of consider it a "native" plant here. A tree over it is dying, so I may find out just how much sun it can tolerate!
I had not heard of the crysantha before. Hmm. I have some plants from that Redwood area and they are surviving. Just this last spring I planted Cardamine californica var. sinuata 'Humboldt High' from Far Reaches Farm, I am eagerly waiting to see if it tolerated 1-neglectful watering during a long dry summer and 2- our soggy winter. Now I really want the V. chrysantha.
Name: Mark McDonough
Massachusetts (Zone 5a)
Region: Massachusetts Enjoys or suffers cold winters Garden Procrastinator Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Foliage Fan
Birds Seed Starter Hybridizer Sempervivums
Image
AntMan01
Feb 6, 2018 10:09 AM CST
Dick, I looked at Google images + Calphotos on V. planipetala, it reveals foliage variation from high gloss to normal matte green. One of the planipetala Calphotos is clearly hexandra. Most show matte foliage, here's one with shiny foliage:
https://calphotos.berkeley.edu...

Mary (Pistil), what I've learned so far about the tri-species Genus Vancouveria, is that hexandra is totally drought tolerant here in New England, totally unfazed in our record-breaking summer droughts of 2011 & 2016 (the latter: total of 3/4" of rain in 3-1/2 months), and growing under moisture-sucking Sugar Maple trees for 30 years and never irrigated. When I first moved to my current home 30 years ago, I planted Vancouveria hexandra down in the lower wooded acre where hoses don't reach, because I was warned about how aggressively it spreads. In all those years my patch is perhaps 12' x 18'. I'm sure if in an irrigated location with better soil and more moisture, it would have spread much further.

The other two, chrysantha and planipetala are water needy, particularly so with chrysantha. It is indeed useful to find those plants that tolerate drought. I'm anxious to find out if hexandra x chysantha crosses will pick up on the yellow color and better drought tolerance, as it is now, I water V. chrysantha lavishly every day to keep it from drying out and crisping.
Avatar: Jovibarba x nixonii 'Jowan'
Allium 'Millenium' - 2018 Perennial Plant of the Year:
http://www.perennialplant.org/...
https://www.waltersgardens.com...
Name: Mark McDonough
Massachusetts (Zone 5a)
Region: Massachusetts Enjoys or suffers cold winters Garden Procrastinator Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Foliage Fan
Birds Seed Starter Hybridizer Sempervivums
Image
AntMan01
Feb 6, 2018 10:38 AM CST
The third species of Vancouveria, V. hexandra, is much more commonly found in gardens and nurseries. It's a charming plant with those unusual white parachute flowers. The flowers on all 3 species of Vancouveria are intricate and worth studying to find out what the parts really are, it seems that mother nature is highly creative.

Vancouveria hexandra is dependably drought tolerant in New England, I've had it growing under the famously dry shade of mature sugar maples for 30 years, the understory is never irrigated. It makes fresh-looking mats of small duck's-feet leaflets, sprinkled with spires of whimsical pure white flowers. In the photo portraits below, I include photos of the aggressively running rhizomes, be sure to plant this in a contained space or in a wild location where it's free to expand the colony.

Patch of V. hexandra in flower, late May. Jeffersonia diphylla


V. hexandra flowers:


V. hexandra flowers:


unobstructed detail view of flowers
Thumb of 2018-02-06/AntMan01/42944d

closeup view of flowers from underside


closeup - side profile view of flowers


Example of the long running rhizomes:


Closeup of the long rhizomes:


view of leaflets in December with frozen ground, the foliage attempts to hang on through freezing temperatures, but is ultimately deciduous in New England.

Avatar: Jovibarba x nixonii 'Jowan'
Allium 'Millenium' - 2018 Perennial Plant of the Year:
http://www.perennialplant.org/...
https://www.waltersgardens.com...
[Last edited by AntMan01 - Feb 23, 2018 10:33 AM (+)]
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