Weekly Weeds: Saucy Flowers

Monday, April 26, 2010

You can call it simply "Black Eyed Susan Vine" or conjure it by its Linnaean classification:

Family Acanthaceae
Genus Thunbergia
Species alata
Variety “Superstar Orange"
Thank you Carl Linnaeus, originator of the botanical Latin classification system that makes us feel a little stupid at the nursery.

The brilliant Linnaeus was really quite shocking for his time: his idea of taxonomy was based on the male or female sexual organs of plants (stamens or pistils for those of you who don’t equate plants parts with sex) and this was controversial in his 18th century day.

His naughty musings on plants,

“The flowers' leaves. . . serve as bridal beds which the Creator has so gloriously arranged, adorned with such noble bed curtains,

and perfumed with so many soft scents that the bridegroom with his bride might there celebrate their nuptials with so much the greater solemnity.”

caused him no end of trouble.

One of his critics, botanist Johann Siegesbeck, called his sexually explicit system "loathsome harlotry." Linnaeus had the last word, of course, by naming an insignificant little weed "Siegesbeckia. I am sure we all know someone we'd like to demote to a weed, if it didn’t give weeds a bad name.

Lovely Linnaean Thunbergia
Linnaean rival Siegesbeckia
But Black Eyed Susan Vine is a most charming weed. Linnaeus would probably approve of its other subtly sexy names too: “Alba” (virginal white) “Blushing Susie” (knowingly innocent & pink-tinged) and of course, the well-known-about-town, Black Eyed Susan (strumpet).
If you want to cover something unsightly, create a screen or add a feature to your garden in a hurry certainly use Ancanthaceae Thunbergia alata.
It is a rampant grower, which in the gardening world cuts both ways. It will speedily camouflage your garden eyesores and give you privacy from nosy neighbors, but if you are not paying attention, well...
This was my dog.

Weekly Weeds By Nancy Knapp

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