Inside-Out-FlowerThe Inside-Out-Flower


This west coast native Vancouveria hexandra is growing against a cliff wall & behind a hawthorne tree in quite a shady location. Though categorized deciduous, it is often nearly evergreen. In our garden, in December, it will have shown no signs of winter wear & tear. Not until toward the middle & end of January does it begin to drop some of its leaves; even then, it never did drop them all.

The photo at the head of this page was taken in late April with lots of new young growth. A hardy perenial herb of the barberry family, it loves rich well drained humus, & is hardy sharing space with ferns, salal, & rhodies. Ours grows in fairly deep shade with numerous trees & shrubs at the top of the wall, & around a little corner from two swordferns.

Inside-Out-FlowerThe yellow stems are rather wiry; the duckfoot-leaves dance in the slightest breeze. It spreads by undersoil rhizomes, but does so rather slowly. It gets its common name "inside-out-flower" from the unusual looking tiny white pealed-back flowers which appear (usually in trios) on stalks taller than the plant itself, each flower having six pale-purplish stamins & the pistol hanging out as temptation to insects, its seeds being dispersed by ants.

The second photo taken in May is of the small blooms, which look not so much inside-out as completely backward, as though the stem were the stamen.

Inside-Out-Flower fruit The third photo, taken mid July, is of the hexandra's seedpod, which is quite a hard fruit somewhat slipper-shaped. By July's end this fruit softens & unfolds up & down, looking like a split green tongues licking simultaneously up & down. Stuck to the inside of the tongues are small red-brown seeds which soon drop off.

Though my mediocre photography may not make it seem like much, it really is an appealing low-maintance shade plant. Everyone who has a nice shady place for it should have it. As it's slow to establish, start with three or four pots so that it won't be too insubstantial, & save the seeds to start in pots then when big enough add those with the rest to thicken up an expanding patch. I expect over time to have a dense area of them against that cliff.


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