Cimicifuga / Actaea

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Booker
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Joined: 2010-01-30

Lori wrote:

Tony wrote:

... apart from five odd days it has rained every day since 5th May. What is sun?

Egad!  Have there been mass suicides?!?   :o :o  Weather like that is really unimaginable here.  What part of the UK are you in?

Tony is nearer the coast, so slightly drier than me!!!!  We seemed to miss three of those 'odd five days'.  LOL.
We both live in Lancashire - midway (very approximately) between North Wales, The Lake District, The Peak District, The Yorkshire Dales and the North-West coast of England.  I remember one lovely day in June, very warm rain indeed!

Cliff Booker A.K.A. Ranunculus
On the moors in Lancashire, U.K.
Usually wet, often windy, sometimes cold ... and that's just me!

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

;D ;D

Wow, I know that people are amazed at what we put with through the winter, but I have to commend your mental strength in putting up with that!

For my reference (and for anyone else who may be similarly challenged in geography skills :)), here's a map of UK counties:
http://www.itraveluk.co.uk/maps/england/

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

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

I've been aching to post to this topic, as I'm nuts about Cimicifuga... and YES I've gone rogue and belligerently maintain Cimicifuga (dry capsules, a follicle) and Actaea (fleshy fruits, a berry) as distinctly separate genera. It's a genus with summer bloomers to fall bloomers, to those with incredibly fragrant flowers (C. simplex) to some with stinky flowers (C. foetida).  I grow a number of forms of Cimicifuga simplex, including a few of the way-overpriced cultivars such as 'Brunette' and 'Hillside Black Beauty'.  I grow the straight green-leaved form of C. simplex, as well as the beautiful purple-leaved forms (dark black purple stems too) known as the 'Atropurpurea Group', although don't know about the validity of such a name, perhaps a catch-all for purplish-leaved dark-stemmed versions.  It is this latter version that provides the most interest, and is a fantastic garden giant.

Cimicifuga simplex (Actaea simplex) is typically noted as a species from Japan, although it also found in Korea, Mongolia, and Russia (Far East, E. Siberia):
http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=2&taxon_id=200007575

Among it's many synonyms is Cimicifuga ramosa, not to be confused with C. racemosa (black bugbane), the latter being one of the stinky species, native to eastern half of North America (http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ACRA7).  Unfortunately, these names are hopelessly confused in horticulture, so if you google "cimicifuga racemosa" you'll notice how this American species gets totally misapplied to Asian cultivars of C. simplex such as 'Brunette' and 'Hillside Black Beauty'. :rolleyes:

Regarding 'Brunette', 'Hillside Black Beauty', and possibly others, I do not find them as satisfactory as those that come under the broad category of the "atropurpurea group", the latter producing stately plants with a gorgeous blackish-purple tinge to the foliage, dark black-purple stems, and buds strongly suffused purple as well, adding rich contrast to the white flowers.  Under good conditions, I have measured mine as reaching 8' (2.3 m), but they're always well over 6' (2m) tall.  They start blooming late August but really come into their own around mid September, and continue into October.  The entire yard is perfumed from the heady "burnt sugar" cotton candy perfume of the flowers.

They seed about with abandon, so be forewarned. Seedlings will shown lots of variation from all green, to dark purple-foliaged forms. I have allowed them to spread, as I dearly love the late season spectacle of arching spires of sweetly perfumes white perfection.  Here are some recent photos, sorry about the photo quality, all were taken with my phone camera until I go out and buy a decent digital camera.

Cimicifuga simplex and "atropurpurea group" photos (Actaea simplex):

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

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

Wow, your plantings are just stunning!
C. simplex/ramosa 'Atropurpurea' is (or should I say "was", as I have lost them, unfortunately) a favourite of mine too - the pristine white flowers bursting from the dark, dark buds is very eye-catching.  It would get to 6' for me, while the other cultivars you mention have never gotten anywhere near that height.  Actually, they've done very poorly this year, no blooms even, which is odd given that much of the summer was quite wet.  
I love the fragrance too (though none this year, unfortunately).  
C. simplex blooms so late here - with the flowers often being killed off by frost before the bloom ends - that seeding around has never been a problem... I actually wouldn't mind it at all, especially seeing how magnificent your groves are!!

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

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

Seen in flower today at the Garden In The Woods, the display garden of the New England Wildflower Society, were Cimicifuga in abundance, most being a very tall, sparsely flowered species with maple-like leaves.  I haven't yet checked the Flora of North America, I wondering what species it is.

Came across this one, with gorgeous broad rounded leaves in low mounds, and red-purple buds starting to open up to white flowers in upright spires... couldn't find a label, but it'll be an American species.  Anyone know what it is?

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

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

Lori wrote:

Wow, your plantings are just stunning!
C. simplex/ramosa 'Atropurpurea' is (or should I say "was", as I have lost them, unfortunately) a favourite of mine too - the pristine white flowers bursting from the dark, dark buds is very eye-catching.  It would get to 6' for me, while the other cultivars you mention have never gotten anywhere near that height.  Actually, they've done very poorly this year, no blooms even, which is odd given that much of the summer was quite wet.  
I love the fragrance too (though none this year, unfortunately).  
C. simplex blooms so late here - with the flowers often being killed off by frost before the bloom ends - that seeding around has never been a problem... I actually wouldn't mind it at all, especially seeing how magnificent your groves are!!

Lori, I can save you some seed... I usually take the long "wands" down into my woods and whack them against the ground to release the seed.  The seed pods are also VERY attractive, dark tinged in the "atropurpurea" forms... I have photos but haven't processed any with names (so I can't find them quickly), but will post some here in a while.

Here's a photo taken on Sept 24, 2006 of Hillside Black Beauty... while the foliage is very dark, it lacks the grace of C. simplex forms with very long arching spires, so while I have photographed C. simplex a million times, only have a couple shots of this overpriced form.  As you mention, it is also shorter, and not a very robust grower, I'm disappointed with many of the named selections.

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

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

Maybe C. rubifolia (syn. cordifolia) for the first one?
The second one is especially intriguing!

Edit:
http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=233500380

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

Thanks, Mark - I would appreciate it! 
Oh, I forgot... I do have C. cordifolia 'Blickfang' blooming, so at least there is one!

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

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

Oh, I'm not familiar with that species or the cultivar (C. cordifolia 'Blickfang')... please show us here.

Thanks for the suggestion of Cimicifuga rubifolia for the first one I show from Garden In The Woods with maple like leaves, the drawing in Flora of North America does indeed look like it:
http://www.efloras.org/object_page.aspx?object_id=41069&flora_id=1

Interesting too, is that while the gross lumping of Cimicifuga (dry seed capsules) into Actaea (fleshy berries for seed), that the Flora of North America, and Flora of China, the two primary floras that engage the genus Cimicifuga, have steadfastly maintained the validity of Cimicifuga, and HAVE NOT followed the lemmings into the ridiculous lumping into Actaea.  So, we can speak with confidence and certainty of Cimificuga... hooray!

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

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

The Flora of North America puts Cimicifuga cordifolia into synonymy with C. americana.
http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=233500375

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

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