Pied Beauty

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Prettiest Plant I Never Saw Before

Recently, I've been hanging around the Cockrell Butterfly Center at the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences, waiting for their famous corpse flower to bloom.  No bloom yet, but I fell in love with a beautiful little tropical shrub that I'd never heard of before -- Ochna serrulata.  The plant was labeled "Mickey Mouse Plant," maybe because those flower sepals look like ears sticking up above the fruit.

There are many species of plants in this genus, and all are tropical evergreen or semi-evergreen shrubs, native to Africa and Asia.  It's said to be highly invasive in parts of Australia and I guess if it escaped into Florida or Hawaii, it might cause trouble.  It's probably too cold here to grow it outdoors without protection, but it sure was pretty.

This little shrub is generally about 6 feet tall, and has an open, rather wiry appearance.  The leaves are shiny green, and it blooms yellow in the spring.  Shortly after flowering, the petals drop and fruit forms, attached to the bright red sepals.  This plant is highly attractive to bees, birds and butterflies.  An understory shrub, it performs best in light shade.  We are just barely to the north of its preferred range, so we may be able to grow it here, with winter protection.

I was so happy to discover this plant!

1 comment:

  1. Mouth-watering! Kind of looks like strawberries with blueberries and green grapes!