Take a Peek at the Peek-A-Boo Plant
Linda Naeve Extension Coordinator Reiman Gardens Iowa State University
Not only is the name whimsical, but this week's Reiman's Pick, the peek-a-boo plant, also known as the toothache plant, has some strange sensory characteristics as well. Long ago, someone must have been surprised when they decided to munch on the blooms of this plant and found it caused drooling and numbness. Although it is not something most of us would try today, chewing on these flowers was used as an effective, temporary relief from toothache pain, similar to the local anesthetic effect of Novacain®. These flowers were also used by natives in the tropics as a urinary antiseptic and as a preventative treatment against malaria. The active ingredient, an antiseptic alkaloid known as Spilanthol, is found throughout the plant, with the highest concentration in the flowers.
The peek-a-boo plant, Spilanthes oleraceae, is a unique, little-known annual garden flower that is native to tropical regions. It is a member of the same plant family as asters, daisies and coneflowers, but the flowers look quite different. At first glance, the blooms on a peek-a-boo plant resemble daisy-like flowers but with all the petals removed and only the round centers left at the ends of the stems. The blooms are olive-shaped, about one inch in length, and yellow with a dark red center. Because these strange flowers look like the eyeballs of a large animal or alien creature, its common name is peek-a-boo or even eyeball plant.
Peek-a-boo plants grow only 12 to 15 inches tall and about 18 inches across. They are covered with blooms from mid-June through September, making them excellent accent plants, edgers in a border garden or container specimens. They coordinate and contrast well with yellow or red-blooming plants and many coleus varieties because of their unusual flowers and dark, bronze-green foliage and red stems.
Peek-a-boo plants prefer a location that receives full sun to partial shade. The soil should be kept moderately moist. Saturated, soggy soils results in poor growth and possible stem rot. Space the plants approximately 10 to 12 inches apart in the garden. Peek-a-boo plants are easy to grow because they are rarely attacked by insects, diseases or rabbits.
Whatever, you chose to call them - toothache plants, eyeball plants or peek-a-boo plants - you will find them at Reiman Gardens looking back at you from the edges of perennial borders and containers.
taken from http://www.extension.iastate.edu/newsrel/2004/jul04/jul0401.html
Dragon Wings Begonia
Latin: Begonia x hybrida 'Dragon Wings'
Big Boy is a large-fruited F1 hybrid that has maintained its popularity for over 50 years.
In 35-plus years following the comings and goings of horticulture, I've seen a number of plants rise in popularity, only to be dashed against the rocks as gardeners tire of them or their less desirable attributes become known.
Dragon Wings begonia is one of the most remarkable new garden flowers to come along in my career. It too will eventually fade from the scene, but for now it's an excellent example of another group of garden plants – the interspecific hybrids – as we continue our discussion of how garden plants are produced.
Dragon Wings begonia is a 2- to 3-foot tall, cane-forming begonia with deep, glossy-green, 5-inch long leaves and drooping clusters of flowers. Because the hybrid is sterile, it just keeps blooming from spring till frost. The original introduction had bright red flowers but pink and white forms are now available.
To follow the story of Dragon Wings begonia, we must first discuss a bit of jargon. The plant is an interspecific hybrid (a cross between two species of begonia), so an "x" is used in the name to indicate its hybrid origins. While this has no legitimacy with begonia taxonomists, some sources are using the name Begonia x hybrida as a catchall name for this hybrid.
The name Dragon Wings is a bit confusing. Chatter amongst members of the American Begonia Society indicate that a plant was registered in 1985 and named Christmas Candy by Mable Cowin, a hobby breeder working with shrub type begonias. From photos on the web, Christmas Candy seems almost identical to what we call Dragon Wings begonia.
By: Gerald Klingaman, retired
Extension Horticulturist - Ornamentals
Extension News - August 27, 2004
taken from https://www.uaex.edu/yard-garden/resource-library/plant-week/begonia-dragonwings.aspx
When this flower is grown in the greenhouse the flower will be red with foliage that is predominantly green but showing some red. Once it is moved outside the foliage will darken to a more purple-toned look and the flower will also darken to a deep purple. This is a GREAT mid-height border plant and will actually stay on the shorter side under high light. So new have a try and let me know what you think of it.
I will be working on the wagon racks today, so will find more plants that need your attention for planting in your garden. Open today from 11-4, so stop on in and have a look. Till next time, this is Becky Litterer, Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty, Iowa