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Stenactis Speciosus - Hardy Perennial

Author: John Wood

Stenactis Speciosus - Hardy Perennials and Old Fashioned Flowers

Stenactis Speciosus Described.

Stenactis Speciosus - Syn. Erigeron Speciosus; Showy Fleabane; Nat. Ord. Compositæ.

This has not long been cultivated in this country; but though a native of the warm climate of California, it proves to be one of the most hardy of herbaceous perennials; it begins to flower in early summer, but August is the heyday of its showiness, and it continues at least a month longer. Its more recent name, Stenactis, is, according to Paxton, a happy and appropriate derivation, and tends much to explain the form of flower, "Stene, narrow, and aktin, a sunbeam, from the narrow and sunlike rays of the expanded flower." It belongs to a genus of "old-fashioned" flowers, which, moreover, is that of the most modern fashion in flowers. As a garden plant it is not only effective, but one of that class which will put up with the most offhand treatment; tenacious of life, neither particular as to soil nor position, constant in fair and foul weather, and doing duty alike in town or suburban garden, these qualities go to make it a worthy subject. Whilst it is nearly related to, and much resembles, the starworts or Michaelmas daises, it far exceeds in beauty the best of them, with only a third of their ungainly length of stem.

The flowers are fully two inches across, of a light purple colour; the disk is somewhat large and of a greenish yellow; the florets of the ray are numerous, full, narrow, and slightly uneven at their points, giving the otherwise dense ray a feathery appearance. These large flowers are produced in bunches of six or ten on each branch, at the height of about eighteen inches; there are many stems, and each one is well branched, the species being very floriferous; the leaves are herb-like, lance-shaped, pointed, amplexicaul, and smooth; root-leaves spathulate.

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Stenactis Speciosus

This plant needs no cultural care; its only requirements are a place in the garden and some one to appropriate its beaming crop of flowers, which cannot fail to be serviceable. As a border plant, among suitable companions, bold clumps are fine, especially when seen by twilight; in lines, too, it may be profitably used. Propagated by division of the roots at any time.

Flowering period, June to September.

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