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The quest for dark foliage on perennial plants has always
been somewhat elusive and often disappointing. In some
respects my discovery of Polemonium yezoense fits
into that category. I was somewhat dismayed the first
year that I grew it as the almost black Spring foliage
turned an ordinary green during early Summer.
However, it soon took on a silvery sheen and rewarded
my trust with lovely blue flowers on a nice, tight little
Polemonium yezoense gets it's specific epithet from Yezo, the former name for Hokkaido, the northernmost of the large islands of Japan where it is native.
There seems to be a selection of this species floating around in the trade called 'Purple Rain'. I haven't seen it in person, consequently I can't comment on whether it is any darker or superior to the species.
Although I've been able eventually divide clumps, this is a plant not too super generous in giving up it's young. Neither have I had any success in getting a seed set. Tissue culture has proven a viable alternative to building a large stock of plants to introduce commercially.
I've grown Polemonium yezoense in full shade and in full sun. It performs well in both locations. Most Polemoniums prefer moist soil and this species is no exception, but it will thrive as well in average garden soil.
All of the Polemonium species and cultivars that I'm familiar with, have blue, or occasionally white flowers. There is one dramatic exception. Polemonium pauciflorum is that one exception http://www.sunfarm.com/images/lg/polemoniump aucifolia- l.jpg Polemonium pauciflorum is a native of the Southwestern US and prefers well drained soil and full sun. It is a short lived perennial, but is really generous in its seed set and very easy to germinate. Yes, I know that the above link has the wrong plant name, I'll get around to fixing it this week.
There is a valuable listing of species and subspecies within the genus and additional information about care and culture of Polemoniums at http://members.aol.com/Meum71/polemonium.ht ml This is already very detailed, but described as a "work in progress" by the author, Paul Henjum of Specialty Perennials.
Other members of the Polemoniaceae family include the genus Phlox.
Just the facts M'am:
Kingdom - Plantae - Plants
Subkingdom - Tracheobionta - Vascular plants
Superdivision - Spermatophyta - Seed plants
Division - Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class - Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons
Subclass - Asteridae
Order - Solanales
Family - Polemoniaceae
Genus - Polemonium
Species - yezoense
Common name - genus - "Jacobs Ladder"
Common name - species - ?
Synonyms - none that I could find
Native of - see http://plants.usda.gov/cgi_bin/topics.cgi
USDA Hardiness Zone - zone 5, maybe 4?
Light preference - Full sun to light shade
Soil preference - Average
Moisture preference - Moist to average
Bloom time - Early Summer
Bloom color - Blue
Foliage - Black in early Spring, medium to silvery dark green Summer and Autumn
Spread - 8"-16"
Height - 6" - 12"
Landscape uses - Front of a sunny border
Medicinal uses - none that I have found
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© 2001 Barry Glick and Sunshine Farm & Gardens
Copyright © Barry Glick 1996-2017. All Rights Reserved.
Barry Glick, Sunshine Farm and Gardens
696 Glicks Rd, Renick, WV 24966, USA
Phone: (304) 497-2208
Last modified February 24, 2009