Cistanthe umbellata (syn. Calyptridium umbellatum)

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Weiser
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-04
Cistanthe umbellata (syn. Calyptridium umbellatum)

Cistanthe umbellata (syn. Calyptridium umbellatum) is a low growing tap rooted perennial generally dispaying two or more basal rosettes of thick, spoon-shaped leaves about an inch long. The inflorescence are spherical umbels of rounded sepals and four small sharply pointed petals on each flower. The colors can vary from cream through light pink. In the Sierra Nevada it can be found growing at a wide range of elevations from 2,500'-14,000'. I usually find it on very gritty/clay slopes exposed to full sun. Easy from seed but requires a very well drained sight, that dries out through the summer.

Botanists disagree on the genera, Calyptridium or Cistanthe, and also on witch family it belongs to. It is a Portulaceae, in most publications I have looked at, but was moved to Montiaceae by some taxonomists.

I'm not sure were it should be pigeon holed???? :rolleyes:

http://www.calflora.org/cgi-bin/species_query.cgi?where-taxon=Cistanthe+...
http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=242415724
http://science.halleyhosting.com/nature/cascade/5petal/purslane/calyptri...

This last shot is of it in seed. Note how the umbels have lifted off the surface of the ground on this sunny day. This is a common occurrence when the sun is shining.

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Thanks John for featuring this cool plant, these "Pussypaws" should be more widely grown, small and flat growing, easy to raise from seed, perfect candidate for a trough.  Everyone should check out the Calphotos link, accessible from John's first link of CalFlora.  I grew some good bright pink forms, here's a selected photo-link showing a couple pink flowered forms on the CalPhotos site.
http://calphotos.berkeley.edu/cgi/img_query?enlarge=0000+0000+0808+0920

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Doreen
Title: Member
Joined: 2011-12-05

Here's a plant in a deep raised bed in my garden. Probably on too rich a diet, looking at the poor ratio of flowers to foliage compared with John's wild plants. The flower colour was a good rich pink though it can be quite wishy-washy. I say 'was' because it's short-lived, I didn't get around to saving seed and so no longer have it. Maybe I'll order it again from the seedex tomorrow!

Doreen Mear
Middle of South Island, New Zealand, in the rain shadow of the Southern Alps.
Continental climate, rare snow cover,
670 mm rain p.a.

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

What a very strange plant indeed! Still one to add to my wish list!

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Doreen wrote:

Here's a plant in a deep raised bed in my garden. Probably on too rich a diet, looking at the poor ratio of flowers to foliage compared with John's wild plants. The flower colour was a good rich pink though it can be quite wishy-washy. I say 'was' because it's short-lived, I didn't get around to saving seed and so no longer have it. Maybe I'll order it again from the seedex tomorrow!

Wow Doreen, what a fantastic specimen, and such rich colored flowers, I wouldn't say the plant has poor ratio of flowers at all. Your plant has wonderfully concise foliage and really showy flowers!.  Yes, with "Calyptridium" one needs to be sure to collect seed to keep it going as they are shortlived things (2-3 yrs).  Their growth habit is reminiscent of Eriogonum lobbii, a center of really nice, small proportioned foliage, and flat radial stems of fluffy bloom.... what's not to love about this plant?  Your photos will probably create a "rush" on the NARGS Seedex looking for this plant!

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

Please, don't give them that idea, Mark!

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

Doreen
Title: Member
Joined: 2011-12-05

I second that, unless I'm near the front of the queue! Seedlist not now live till Saturday  :(

Doreen Mear
Middle of South Island, New Zealand, in the rain shadow of the Southern Alps.
Continental climate, rare snow cover,
670 mm rain p.a.

externmed
Title: Guest
Joined: 2010-03-01

Anyone growing Calyptridium umbellatum outdoors in the north or northeast usa?  Would be tempted to try in a sandbed or dry scree.
Charles Swanson MA USA z6a

NE Massachusetts (New England) USA  zone 6 (5B to 6B)

gardens visited, photographs:  www.flickr.com/photos/wildmeadow

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Hi Charles, I merged your query here into an existing topic on this cool plant.  Since we garden in the same general area, I can attest to the fact Cistanthe umbellata is easy to grow and flower, although relatively short-lived (2-3 years at best), but is a good candidate for growing in a trough.  I no longer grow it, but the photos of this plant surely make me want to try growing it again.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Peter George
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-09-03

Charles,
I've grown it successfully in the open garden, in two different locations. The 3 plants lasted 3 years, and this year I'm going to put out 5 or more, so it has a more impactful presence in the garden.

Peter George, Petersham, MA (north central MA, close to the NH/VT borders), zones 5b and 6 around the property.

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

Peter, if 3 plants last 3 years, then 5 plants last 5 years and 10 plants last 10 years?  ;D Have to try that!

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

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