Type of Flower
Limnanthes douglasii is a species of annual flowering plant in the family Limnanthaceae (meadowfoam) commonly known as poached egg plant or Douglas' meadowfoam. It is native to California and Oregon, where it grows in wet, grassy habitat, such as vernal pools and spring meadows. It can grow in poorly drained clay soils. The plant was collected by the Scottish explorer and botanist David Douglas, who worked on the west coast of America in the 1820s.
The plant usually bears white flowers with yellow centers, hence the name "poached egg plant", but flower color can vary across subspecies. It is a popular ornamental plant. It attracts hoverflies to the garden to eat the aphids and is well loved by bees. It is self-seeding, and gardeners are often careful as to where the seeds fall as it will quite happily grow in a lawn.
There are five subspecies:
- L. douglasii ssp. douglasii R. Br., is native to the coastal mountains and valleys of southwestern Oregon south to the San Francisco Bay Area
- L. douglasii ssp. nivea (C.T. Mason)C.T. Mason, with mostly white flowers, grows in the coastal mountains of northern California
- L. douglasii ssp. rosea (Benth.)C.T. Mason, found in California's Central Valley and adjacent hills, often has pink veining on its petals
- L. douglasii ssp. sulphurea (C.T. Mason)C.T. Mason, is a rare yellow-petaled subspecies endemic to the Bay Area
- L. douglasii ssp. striata (Jeps.)Morin, has recently been subsumed into this species; it occurs in the Klamath range and the north and central Sierra Nevada
The Poached Egg Plant is used in rock gardens and containers. It is also a good candidate for edging material and as a denizen of the border. The plants grow either erect or spreading, from 15 to 30cm (6 to 12in) high to 15cm (6in) wide. The fragrant, abundant flowers appear from summer to autumn and attract bees and butterflies for the duration. This lovely plant provides a carpet of fragrant golden and white blooms that will grace the front of the border, rockery or path edging.
This beautiful little plant is very easy to grow and often found in the children’s corner of seed suppliers, however this little plant should not be underestimated, it can be a valuable resource for the allotmenteer - Limnanthes douglasii can be employed as both a companion plant to crops and as a green manure. Beloved of bees and adored by hoverflies and other beneficial insects, the plants provide a rich supply of nectar that will bring natural predators of pests, such as aphids, mites, mealy bugs and caterpillars directly to your vegetable bed. They prefer full sun and a cool moist root run and because of this do very well when grown as an edging to paths. If allowed, Limnanthes will self-seed freely and can be left to naturalise, germinating and flowering at different times. This can be imitated by sowing in autumn for flowers as early as April, and from spring to July for a long sequence of summer flowers.