Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Plants

Persicaria polymorpha (Giant Fleece Flower)

A few weeks ago I posted a photo of plant called the Giant Fleece Flower (Polygonum polymorpha), which was blooming in the garden. The plant, with soft, creamy-colored plumes, looked like a sailing ship with all its sails billowing in the wind. At about five feet in height, it brings grace to a border, and its habit is relaxed without needing staking. Researching it on the web, I found picture after picture of this magnificent plant. And not only is it beautiful, but it blooms along with irises, and they are breathtaking together. Perfect plant? Uh, wait a second before rushing out to a nursery. It is magnificent, but only for about ten days. Then the panicles turn brown and crispy.

The wreck.

I can hack that, as nobody’s perfect. But then squadrons of  Japanese beetles appear, and they love this plant. No, they adore it. It’s plant-alicious for them.Yum. So within the space of four or five days, the Giant Fleece Flower goes from looking like a magnificent sailing vessel, to something more like the wreck of the Mary Deare. A plant like this presents the gardener with a dilemma–is ten days of beauty worth the down-side of having a big, moth-eaten, green blob in the garden for twelve weeks? It depends on the garden. I swooped in and cut off the crispy panicles, picked off any remaining sullen and sulking beetles, and then noticed some Gloriosa daisies peeking through the foliage, and it was ok. Not magnificent anymore, but something I could live with.

Settling down for the rest of the summer.

6 thoughts on “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Plants

  1. The second picture shows beetle damage–the beetles themselves are up on the flower panicles. Not sure what you mean about white patches, but when the flowers turned brown, the little white petals fell on the leaves–maybe that’s what you are seeing. Are you thinking of planting this?

  2. Fran, is Giant Fleeceflower persicaria polymorpha (picture caption) or polygonum polymorpha (body of post)? Either way, I’m confused – persicaria is a bizarro genera, I think, with lots of plants not quite like each other . . . and polygonum are the solomon seals. Are these members of the solomon seal family? In any case, they are beautiful – sort of like astilbes on steroids! And the JB’s? Well, you took care of their damage by cutting the fleece flower back. I really haven’t seen many JBs in my yard and I think this is a shade plant, right?? Need shade plants! Must have!! : ) (Hate when I turn into a zombie in the middle of a post . . .)

    1. . . . walking stiffly with arms outstretched, eyes unfocused, to Pesches . . . must have fleeceflower . . . where is fleeceflower, Wally? . . . (P.S. Wally’s my fav guy there at Pesches)

    2. Sherri, you will hate this answer, but here goes. Solomon’s Seal is in Polygonatum, not Polygonum. And some year’s back, Persicaria was included in the genus Polygonum. Then taxonomists decided to separate it out and make it a genus. So this plant used to be in Polygonum, but is now called a Persicaria. So sometimes I guess confused (can’t imagine why). Thank you for pointing it out, though.

      1. Oh, heavens, no, Fran . . . I don’t hate the answer! Just mad at myself that I – once again – confused polygonum with polygonatum. And I KNOW better. OK, we shall just blame all of this on the taxonomists, the evil creatures! (Actea? Cimicifuga? Oh, heck – actea schmactea!!) Would love to blame Linnaeus, too, since he started all this binomal baloney, but – the binomal baloney actually works! : )

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