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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Parnassia Flowers

Type of Flower 
The genus Parnassia, also known as Grass of Parnassus or bog-stars, are plants in the family Celastraceae. The plants occur in arctic and alpine habitats, as well as in dune systems and fens, swamps, wet meadows, open seepage areas, moist woods, and across the Northern Hemisphere. It is actually not a grass, but an herbaceous dicot. The stalk of the plant can reach up to 8 inches (200 mm), the leaves up to 4 inches (100 mm) and the petals can be up to 1.4 inches (36 mm) wide. The flower has five white petals with light green venation. There are five three-pronged sterile stamens, each tipped with drop-like, false nectaries, which (along with the visual cue of veins) attract pollinating flies and bees. The flower blooms in late summer, around July, and into October.
The species is often found in wet calcareous habitats with low fertility, low canopy cover, and high plant diversity.Parnassia glauca is considered to be an indicator species of fens.Such habitats are often becoming rare, and so species of Parnassia may have high conservation value. For example, Parnassia palustris is threatened and legally protected in Michigan. while Parnassia caroliniana is considered imperiled in North Carolina.
Parnassus flowers are the symbol of the clan MacLea, also known as the highland Livingstone clan, which is said to be the favorite flower of St. Moluag, the Irish missionary whose staff the clan chiefs hold. Three Grass of Parnassus flowers appear on the Flag of Cumberland, a British county, as that flower grows on Cumberland's lofty fells.
Species include: 
  • P. asarifolia 
  • P. cabulica 
  • P. caroliniana 
  • P. californica 
  • P. cirrata 
  • P. fimbriata 
  • P. glauca 
  • P. grandifolia
  • P. kotzebuei 
  • P. palustris

When growing Grass of Parnassus from seed it is best to grow outdoors in its final location. The plants like to grow in swampy (or very moist) conditions and are able to grow in a sunny or lightly shaded part of the garden. Ideally the soil should be ever so slightly acidic to neutral (pH 6 to 7) and rich. The Parnassia seeds should be sown on the surface of flats using fresh seed at the end of summer. The flats should then be sunk into a shady part of the garden. Germination can take from one to six months. Once the Grass of Parnassus seedlings have grown to a stage where they have five leaves they should be transplanted into peat pots and relocated to an area of light shade; the pots should be watered from below. In the autumn the plants can be transplanted into the garden at about 15 to 20 cm apart.
It is easy to look after Parnassia, they like the soil to be moist or swampy so water regularly. Additionally the plants should be mulched in the spring to keep the plants cool. It is recommended to divide the plants every three or four years to maintain vigour. If you require more grass of Parnassus plants then they can be propagated by division immediately after flowering has finished.


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