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Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Plant of the Week: Yellow Giant Hyssop
The yellow giant hyssop brandishes dense, cylindrical flower spikes that resemble a miniature choir of cacti. The spikes emerge atop stout, square, branching stems and measure 4 to 16 inches long, depending on the size and maturity of the plant. Their 1/3-inch-long yellow-green flowers are short-lived, small in comparison to the rest of the plant, and don’t all bloom at the same time. At maturity, each flower is replaced by four one-seeded nutlets. Colonies are often produced from the root systems of yellow giant hyssop, but the plants don’t fare well during summer droughts. Bees, bee flies and butterflies suck nectar from the flowers, though the dense foliage also attracts predatory insects (wasps, spiders, ladybird beetles). Native Americans used the coarsely toothed leaves in compound mixtures to relieve poison ivy rash. Today, new populations are being found in association with oak savanna restoration—a dynamic that also exists on the eastern edge of Nature Boardwalk, where a new black oak savanna is being cultivated.
Common Name: yellow giant hyssop
Scientific Name: Agastache nepetoides
Family: Mint (Lamiaceae)
Native Status: throughout central and eastern North America
Plant Type: herbaceous flowering perennial (forb)
Height: up to 7 feet
Flowering Time: mid-summer to early fall
Flower Color: white to yellow-green
Interest: can be used in perennial gardens, attracts bees and butterflies
Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo
By transforming the South Pond into Nature Boardwalk, Lincoln Park Zoo has created an urban ecosystem in the heart of the city. Enjoy a virtual view as native plants and animals establish themselves in this rare refuge.
As Lincoln Park Zoo’s director of horticulture, Brian oversees the zoo’s gardens, from bud to bloom.
As coordinator of wildlife management, Mason chronicles the bugs, birds, fish, insects, mammals and more that make their homes at Nature Boardwalk.
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