Thursday, August 4, 2011
Grassleaf Roseling - Callisia graminea
The roselings (Callisia spp.; f.k.a. Cuthbertia spp.) are what I call the "forgotten spiderworts." They are diminutive and easy to miss while walking in a natural area, but they are especially attractive when viewed up close. Most have grass-like leaves and all have small pink flowers - like a miniature spiderwort, but not nearly as aggressive in terms of its ability to spread in a landscape. Florida is home to four species. One is an endemic scrub plant (C. ornata), one is a near-endemic found also in parts of Georgia (C. cordifolia), and another occurs in the Piedmont region of the SE U.S. and in only three Florida counties (C. rosea). Only grassleaf roseling (C. graminea) occurs over much of Florida and has the adaptibility here to make it a good landscape plant for wildflower gardens.
All roselings are annuals. Grassleaf roseling, as its common and Latin names suggest, has grass-like leaves that form a clump about 8 inches across and 6-8 inches high. From this small mound, the flower stalks emerge in late spring to early summer; standing another inch or two above the foliage. Tiny pink blooms open in the morning and close by early afternoon; similar to those of its close relatives the spiderworts. Each flower lasts for only that short period, but new flowers are produced daily for many weeks.
Grassleaf roseling occurs in a variety of upland habitats, but is most evident in mesic pinelands in areas of sufficient sunlight. It is not a fussy plant, but does not do well in habitat extremes.
Though spiderworts are commonly propagated for home landscapes, the roselings are not. Their small size and annual nature make them poor subjects for most gardens, but they will reseed and persist when planted in conditions that are favorable. The key is having a bit of open soil for the seeds to germinate in. Do not attempt this plant in heavily mulched situations.
We grow this species from time to time at Hawthorn Hill. Currently, we have a few extra plants and we hope to get enough seed from the ones we don't sell to keep it in our inventory. If you are interested, please ask.