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Valentine.gr  

March 2011


Did you know that the plant " Walking Iris", gets this name from its long stem who grows from its flower and then drops to the ground where it will take root, thereby "walking"?

Neomarica - Walking Iris - (N. gracilis)  

Neomarica - Walking Iris - Neomarica spp.

Neomarica (Walking Iris or Apostle Plant) is a genus of 16 species of plants in family Iridaceae, native to tropical regions of western Africa, and Central and South America, with the highest diversity (12 species) in Brazil. The genus name is derived from the Greek words neo, meaning "new", and Marica, the Roman nymph. The Greek  word ‘neo’ (new) was added when it was discovered that Marica had already been used to define another genus—Cipura.

Marica is the name of water nymph in the River Liris who often hides in the shade of a sacred Italian glen named for her. In this sacred grove, oracles revealed the future. In Roman mythology, she is the mother of Acis, a river god, with Faunus, the Roman name for the better-known Greek god Pan, a very old god of nature. The hooved Faunus was an aggressive lover of the nymphs, creating many children in his orgiastic pursuit of pleasure.

Likewise the plant Neomarica  is a prolific producer of babies. This member of the Iridaceae Family (iris) produces a small flower that blooms for only one day, rests for a few days and then blooms again. It does this for four to six weeks. If you arrive at the right time in the early morning and touch the end of the unopened flower it will 'pop' to the perfectly-formed, three petals with spotted markings. It flowers year round. This flower would be an ideal choice for time-lapse photography.

At the end of the day the flower will close and start preparing for its long stem to drop to the ground where it will take root, thereby 'walking.'

They are herbaceous perennial plants that propagate by way of a thick rhizome and new plantlets that develop from the stem where flowers once emerged. The plants grow erect, and have long slender lanceolate leaves from 30-160 cm long and 1-4 cm broad, depending on the species. They produce very fragrant flowers that last for a short period of time, often only 18 hours.

The flowers emerge from what appears to be just another leaf, but is really a flower stalk structured to look like the other leaves; they are 5-10 cm diameter, and closely resemble Iris flowers. After pollination, the new plantlet appears where the flower emerged and the stalk continues to grow longer. The weight of the growing plantlet causes the stalk to bend toward the ground, allowing the new plantlet to root away from its parent. This is how it obtained the common name of "Walking Iris". The other common name "Apostle Plant" comes from the belief that the plant will not flower until the individual has at least 12 leaves, the number of apostles of Jesus.

The walking iris is produced from rhizomes and forms vigorous clumps of foliage and spring-flowering blooms reaching up to 3 feet or more. The unusual, yet attractive, flowers of walking iris appear to grow out of its sword-like, gray-green leaves. In actuality, the stem bearing the flowers is fanned out, resembling the leaves. These are followed by small plants (or offsets) that make aerial roots, which establish themselves quite easily. The flowers of walking iris also open only for a day and then take a short rest to open again several days later. This rest and bloom cycle goes on for 4-6 weeks.

Two of the most commonly grown species of walking iris include N. caerulea and N. gracilis. N. caerulea has flowers that are vibrant, mid-blue with brown, orange and yellow claws. N. gracilis has stunning blue and white flowers.

Walking iris grows in full sun to light shade in well-drained soil. Since walking iris tolerates a wide range of soil and light conditions, this hardy plant is quite versatile in the garden. The captivating colors and fragrance also make walking iris an irresistible and welcome addition to nearly any garden.

Faunus may still be hiding in the hammocks, a Roman nature god among us. Certainly this prolific plant is proof that nature is still full of fecundity.


Source:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neomarica
http://www.plantingflowerbulbs.com/walking-ris.htm
http://www.keywestgardenclub.com/Walking_Iris.html

 

  LINK OF THE MONTH

 

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