Certain woodland plants help ease our transition out of peak spring ephemeral bloom. Just as we start to miss the Erythronium and Anemone, these stalwarts come into bloom and herald the rest of the season in the flowering understory. Glaucidium palmatum is doing just this right now at Heronswood and will keep going until we make the leap into summer.
The large, blousy blooms on Glaucidium palmatum make it obvious where it gets its common name, Japanese Wood Poppy. The four-petaled flowers do resemble members of the poppy family, especially that other Wood Poppy, Stylophorum. But common names can be misleading, and taxonomy can be confusing. Glaucidium is only distantly related to poppies, and after much revision it has finally landed in the Ranunculaceae with the rest of the buttercups.
This woodlander is striking and unique, only ever rising to about two feet, but with large foliage that resembles maple leaves. In late spring, each stem sports a delicate, sizeable, upturned flower, with a boss of yellow stamens in the center. The flowers of the straight species are a pale lavender in color, but there is a white form available (pictured above), Glaucidium palmatum ‘Album’ which is just as stunning.
Glaucidium palmatum is native to wooded mountainsides in Japan, and will be happiest in a cool, moist spot in your woodland garden. Given enough time, they should form a significant patch to brighten up your understory and pave the way for summer.
Be sure to come visit ours in the woodland this weekend, or at our Spring Tea on May 4th. And check out our plant sale vendors on May 11th and 12th, they just may have some for sale.
– Nathan Lamb, Curator/Assistant Director