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` Claytonia sibirica
Claytonia sibirica
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Carl Hanscomb has one of the coolest gardens I've ever visited. A Japanese theme pervades the cascading beds and borders with some great water running through the property in Occidental California. Carl is a very generous and knowledgeable Plantsman, and it was from Carl that I received Claytonia sibirica. Now, being a zone 5 gardener, I'm always excited by the specific epithet sibirica, brrrrrr. But this is a plant that seems to be native from Alaska all the way down through California.

The genus Claytonia finds it's home in the Portulacaceae family. Now there are some classical Botanists that would take offense to the redundancy of the previous sentence, and they are correct. I'll explain why, and hopefully, it will be the last time that I am Nomentclaturally Incorrect. The "aceae" at the end of the word means family in Botanical Latin, so to use the word family after Portulacaceae is redundant. But as I explained to my friend Kathy Gregg, a classical Botanist who reminded me of this rule, some of the over 10,000 people on my weekly mailing list are not Classical Botanists, but are home gardeners eager to learn about new plants. So why not give them some lessons in Botanical Latin she said and I agree.

I've enjoyed our two native East Coast species, Claytonia virginica and Claytonia caroliniana forever, but alas, their early appearance in the Spring is very ephemeral, not only for the flowers, but for the whole plant. Not so with Claytonia sibirica, a plant that is not only persistent in foliage all Spring, Summer and Autumn, but is in continual flower. Plants are about 6" - 12" tall and prefer moist shade. The foliage is a luscious dark green and quite supple. The delicate, five petaled, light pink flowers are notched at the tips and have deep magenta veining. They seem to last quite a while. There is a great closeup of the flower at http://www.daytrails.com/CandyFlower.html

The generic name, Claytonia, is in honor of John Clayton, one of America's earliest botanists. John Clayton lived from 1693-1773 in Soles, Gloucester County VA. WOW, that's 80 years old, pretty amazing for back in those days when the average life expectancy must have been around 40. Surely it was his love of plants that kept him going. It was he who sent J. F. Gronovius most of the specimens and information about plants of the "New World" for Flora Virginica published in 1739. In his monumental Species Plantarum (1753), Linnaeus introduced the consistent use of binomial nomenclature, his knowledge of North American species was based heavily on Clayton's specimens. Montia sibirica is another synonym for this plant.

The Department of Botany at The Natural History Museum in London England maintains an herbarium, named in honor of John Clayton, and has extensive biographical and interesting information about this fascinating man, to whom we owe so much. You can find out more by going to http://www.nhm.ac.uk/botany/clayton/index.h tml

Now, the next question is, Claytonia sibirica, Annual or Perennial??? Well that depends on who you talk to, it's hard for me to tell, since it seeds around so well. This is one plant that, once you grow it, you'll never be without it. However, it will never become a nuisance, as the seedlings are very easy to pull up if they are growing where you don't want them.

Common names abound, "Siberian Miners Lettuce" a reference to the fact that the entire plant is edible, "Candy Flower", "Siberian Spring Beauty" a reference to it's very early appearance in the garden, and "Pink Purslane"

While I was surfing around looking for information on Clayton and Claytonia, I stumbled upon the "Cal Flora" pages. Hosted by the University of California at Berkeley, this "Digital Library" is one of the most extensive I've ever seen. If every state embarked on a project of this scope, it would be wonderful. You can experience Cal Flora at http://www.calflora.org/

We spoke last week about anagrams as I told you that Tellima was an anagram for Mitella and shared with you Saruma and Asarum. Well here's a few more. Dear readers, Larry Hodgson of Canada, contributes Lobivia (a cactus) an anagram of Bolivia (where it is found). Joachim Erfkamp, of Germany contributes, "In the orchid family there is another anagram name: Sedirea japonica. The genus
shares a lot of similarities with the south east Asian genus Aerides, but is native only to Japan, Korea and Taiwan." And Diana Capen of Perennial Favorites in Rye Colorado writes, "Docynia is an anagram of Cydonia".

Anybody else have anymore Anagrams or other Botanical Trivia??

By the way, I'm working on the "Resources Page" on my website and you can see the progress at: http://www.sunfarm.com/links/resources.htm When you get there, click on Horticulture Societies and Organizations and you will see a list of about 60 groups, if you have any to add, please let me know.

You can take a virtual tour of the gardens here at Sunshine by cruising on over to http://www.sunfarm.com/tour/thumbs.html These photos are thumbnails and can be clicked on to fill your screen.

A complete set of back issues of "Glick Pick of the Week" is available for the asking. If you would like me to send them, or if you would like to first see the list, send me an email. Also, if you're getting more than one copy of this weekly mailing, or would like to subscribe a friend, or for some crazy reason, to unsubscribe, let me know.

2000 Barry Glick and Sunshine Farm & Gardens

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Barry Glick, Sunshine Farm and Gardens
696 Glicks Rd, Renick, WV 24966, USA
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Last modified February 24, 2009
URL: http://www.sunfarm.com/picks/claytoniasibirica-125701.phtml