To back up a little, you might recall that I found three mystery plants, planted in about a triangle as though they were put there purposely, in the garden this spring. Since I had a vague recollection that that was where I planted some Agastache last year, I let them grow. But as they continued to grow taller and taller, and then ultimately bloomed, it became clear it was nothing I had put there purposely.
I thought I had been through every weed and wildflower identifier there was. I studied just about every kind of plant you might find in southeastern Wisconsin.
Well it’s a darn good thing that Carol came along, but otherwise this mystery might have never been solved. Turns out I was looking for plants from the wrong state. I should have been looking for something from California.
I know you are totally perplexed now, but fortunately Carol was good enough to even send me a link to a “Guide to Wildflowers of San Francisco.” Not exactly the first place I would have looked.
Turns out my mystery plant was Scrophularia californica, aka Bee Plant and California figwort.
Here’s what various websites have to say about it:
“Rank perennial 3-6′ tall. Foliage attracts more attention than the many, tiny maroon flowers that bees like. Flowers have fused petals forming a cup with the 2 upper lips extending outward. Leaves are opposite, 2-4″ long, toothed and grow along a square stem. Moist areas in brush and woods; many communities February-July.”
“Scrophularia californica, a dicot, is a perennial herb that is native to California and is found only slightly beyond California borders.”
OK, I know you’re thinking that Carol and I have lost our noodles, because clearly this plant has no business being outside of California, much less half a country away in Wisconsin.
But check out the photos.
These are photos from the web of Scrophularia californica.
|Stanford University / Ken Gardiner photo|
|Wildflowers in Santa Barbara photo|
|UC Santa Cruz photo|
There is no doubt in my mind that it is the same plant. Once Carol figured out what it was, it didn’t take me too long to figure out how a wildflower from California ended up in my garden.
Remember the great ‘Family Jewels’ plant from last year? I bought that and some Verbena bonariensis from the only online nursery I could find them at: Annie’s Annuals. Located in … Richmond, California.
I planted both those plants in that garden, just feet away from where the mystery plant popped up, so I’m certain there was a rider that came with them. Hence how Scrophularia californica ended up in my Wisconsin garden.