Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Real Traffic Stopper !!

Candle Tree...Candlestick Plant...Empress Candlestick

All pseudonyms for the plant Cassia alata....which the botanists have reclassified as Senna alata....well we really do not want to get into the whole renaming thing..... suffice to say it can be found under the name Cassia alata.
This is a late summer into fall bloomer that is a guarantee to stop traffic and have people asking you "What is that" and "Where did you get it?" (Yes... the true mark that your garden rocks)
make plans for growing this late-summer bloomer early. Set out the young candlestick plants in a sunny spot in the middle or back of a mixed border to bloom with fall perennials. Or in tropical designs, the large scale foliage contributes a texture contrast to elephant ears, tall grasses, banana leaves, caster plants, and cannas.
It becomes a massive tree in  its native tropics, but is a summer annual in our area, even still...expect it to grow to 8 to 10 feet before first frost. To achieve this type of growth it must be planted in heavy, rich, moist soil....just like the jungle that it is from, it will tolerate part day sun, but performs better in a full sun exposure.

The flowers: candelabras of upright racemes open golden blooms for several weeks in late summer and fall, some lasting up to two months before first freeze.
Back in "the day" when Love Field was "The Airport" the grounds crew would plant this show stopper at the entrance beds and boy would they make a show, they could be seen coming and going.

Now just for grins this plant has strong medicinal properties...mainly in the anti-fungal applications and is said to have been used to treat ringworm and athletes foot. Its active ingredients include the yellow chrysophanic acid. Its laxative effect, due to its anthraquinone content, is also well proven...just in case you need to know.

(Information taken in part from Maggies Garden .com, Aggie-horticulture, and Wikipedia...Thank You Very Much)

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