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Amsonia ciliata

Flowers begin opening while the plant’s unfurling branches are lax, a curious but beautiful effect.
Gil Nelson, Wildflowers of the Sandhills Region, 2011

Amsonia ciliata

I‘ve heard more often about Amsonia hubrichtii because of its use in gardens, but A. ciliata is a good garden candidate as well. The fringed bluestar has the same things going for it that A. hubrichtii does — light blue flowers in spring, outstanding fall color — but the hairs (cilia) that characterize this species catch the autumn sun in a particularly beautiful way and make it appear to glow. [1]

In the garden, fringed bluestar is tolerant of dry soils and is resistant to deer and insect pests due to its milky sap. It likes a little sun; plant in an open woodland or in a sunnier spot at wood’s edge. A selection, ‘Spring Sky’, from the Philadelphia garden of botanist Mary Henry (1884–1967), is sometimes available in nurseries, or it can be grown from cuttings or seed.

Nineteenth century botanical doctor, botanist, and ethnobotanist, Gideon Lincecum, wrote in his notes, “I have not known this plant used for any thing or by any nation of people. But it possesses the characteristic marks for a good medicine.” He believed the root of the plant to be stimulant, sudorific, and emetic, and thought one day it could come into use. [2]

 

Scientific name: Amsonia ciliata

Common names: Fringed bluestar, sandhills bluestar, slimpod, blue dogbane

Family: Apocynaceae

Native Range: Southeastern US

  1. http://RickDarke.com/amsonia.PDF, accessed 11/01/16.
  2. http://w3.biosci.utexas.edu/prc/lincecum/pages/Amsonia_salicifolia-notes.html, accessed 11/01/16.

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