Plant Names and Classifications

Are you like me and didn’t know that common plant names are not the best way of identifying plants because a lot of the common names get confused or could overlap with others? I mean there are trees that are called oak trees that are not in the same group. It’s just a bunch of craziness and I just want to make it clear: up until this point I was entirely ignorant. I’m cool with it.

Now there is a science to plant classification and in that science there are two categories that we should be aware of and that is the plant taxonomy and plant systematic systems. We used to go by common names but it often became confusing  for a lot of people. Today we classify all plants based on their genetic and evolutionary characteristics, this means that the plants are grouped based on who their common ancestors are.

In horticulture they are primarily concerned with the last three levels of classification: Species, Genus and Family.

The species is the most basic level of classification and below this there can be many subspecies. These plants are usually the most closely related to one another and they can interbreed freely.

The Genus is a group of related species.

The Family is the general group of Genus who are all related by a common ancestor.

There are two important flowering plant families that my professor made sure that we covered. Frankly, I’ve already learned more than what I knew before and I am pleased, but we’re only part of the way through so I’ll continue to let you know what I know or I am learning.

First is the dicot family, which is a flowering family with two cotelydons (embrodic leaves). Just to let you know those cotelydons are inside and this is the largest of the two families. There are over 200,000 types and they are everywhere. They are roses, myrtle trees and so many more.

The second flowering family is the Monocot. They are grass like flowering plants that only have one cotelydon per seed. In agriculture the majority of biomass is created through monocots. You might find a monocot as wheat, rice, bamboo, sugar cane, forage grasses and many others. This family includes many bulb flowers like daffodils, lilies, and iris. They are not simply flowers and grasses but also tumeric, garlic, and asparagus.

Both are angiosperms and very popular. I really enjoy these classes and can’t wait to learn more. How many more things am I going to learn? Who knows but I can’t wait.

Although this information may not be useful right away I am certain being able to identify plant families will be useful in the future. These pictures are by a wonderful lady named Vivian Morris.

Plant names are identified not my their family but by the genus and species. Common names change by region and can be confusing because a rose is a rose and can be any different species of rose if you are looking for a specific type. Although common names can be misleading botanical names are not. The Botanic name is a Latin name accepted world wide.

For example: Magnolia alba or Ligustrum album.

Until next time…

Rosemary Indoors

I am having a lot of fun with rosemary. It is one of my favorite herbs to grow in our garden. I started rosemary in 2020 and I fell in love. Have you ever just taken your face and moved your face between their leaves? It is the greatest experience.

Also this is another perennial for my area. One thing I learned is that perennial doesn’t mean that it will live forever. It only gives the promise of three or more years. The more you know, right?

Rosemary is evergreen that boosts the immune system and helps blood circulation. This plant is high in antioxidants, improves digestion, enhancing memory and concentration, neurological protection, protection against macula degeneration, and many other amazing uses. They have this disclaimer that says: do not bulk up on rosemary and try to just eat all of it. Eating rosemary in bulk can put you into a coma and many other not so cool side effects.

This has been one of the easiest herbs that I have been able to grow. Rosemary can get between 1.5 and 3 meters tall- which is awesome. It can be used as an anti fungal remedy as well.

Fun Fact: this is a beneficial herb to help prevent scurvy and certain cancers.

I love that it is one of the many herbs that grows well in containers. I enjoy the smell and that is an evergreen. It is so pretty. Smells good, tastes good in food and has all of the benefits a humble farmer could want. It makes an excellent border shrub and repels certain insects.

I have dried out a large amount of rosemary and I am really excited about grinding it down. I have been making it into a powder and putting them in cork bottles. One day I plan on doing a lot with it. Unfortunately, my plants aren’t producing large quantities of rosemary just yet.

I have been thinking of it’s uses because I do not use powdered rosemary for cooking. Who knows, but the uses are endless.

Not recommended for women who are pregnant, nursing or wish to become pregnant. If you are taking medications that are prescribed or provide long term medical care always consult a physician before adding rosemary to your diet on a regular basis- as in more than 4 nights a week.

Just putting that out there so that if people see it prevents cancer they don’t eat three pounds, put themselves in a coma then sue me. I don’t have time for all of that nonsense.

Just know rosemary is easy to grow, does well against cats using it as camouflage to attack one another and my children love running their fingers through it and it doesn’t die. I can forget to water it and it doesn’t act dramatic.

Beneficial Grants: Texas Monarch Butterfly Grant

I live in Texas. Howdy.

I was looking into things that could boost my permaculture food forest without costing me any money. As I was looking through the many grants. It all started with the Monarch Butterfly Grant.

This is a very small personal grant that cannot exceed past 400 per person/group. This grant can only be used to purchase plants (which is all I want- free plant money). So there are some rules to this particular grant that go further than that: they have to be native to Texas. I want Butterflies

As I wait for winter to be over I plan. My close friend LD always has a beautiful yard and I want to shine too. This has inspired me to look for money to supply my hobbies.

Challenge accepted.

I want all four hundred of those dollars so that I can expand my already amazing dream permaculture food forest. So I looked into it.

Agarita is one of the native plants. I hadn’t thought about this plant before -primarily because I was so narrow minded on the idea of a permaculture food forest- but I love that we have so many milkweed plants in my pasture because it attracts the butterflies.

That’s also how I happened upon this grant because I decided I wanted to start a butterfly garden to attract even more. The agarita has the nectar that the butterflies crave. If I have this lovely blossoming flower it will give the mom butterflies plenty of food – these plants also are great for other pollinators like bees. Keep that in mind.

It is a shrub that is pointy. I like pointy shrubs because they make good barriers to keep animals away from my property. Sold. They are an evergreen, drought tolerant and they also produce tasty berries (and makes delicious jelly). Sounds like a win-win-win to me.

These are my end game goals guys. I want to be on this list.

Flame acanthus also known as the hummingbird bush. This is absolutely beautiful and another shrub. This is considered a ‘profuse’ bloomer. It allegedly is a huge bloomer and that is exciting because it attracts not just monarch butterflies but also hummingbirds and bees. (It’s also a deer resistant and drought tolerant)

Kidneywood is so beautiful. I had no idea, they are allegedly really fragrant and attract bees and butterflies. They have many branches and they can get up to be 12 feet tall. That is amazing because it is also drought tolerant and can survive cold and heat. (Clay soil is acceptable here). I am digging it. Sounds like it will be a great place for butterflies to settle in and eat some nectar.

Cone Flower is something we already have but would love to have it planted everywhere. Who knew that it was a native Texas plant? Now I know and you do too. This is a perennial and has beneficial properties which I will probably go over at a later time. They bloom from April until September so this will give my early pollinators a snack before the rest bloom in May or June.

The application is online and the application and process seems very easy.

They say purple cone flower can be aggressive- I sure hope so. So keep that in mind.

Cenizo is just a cool name to have. If I get another pet (fingers crossed I don’t but if I do) I am going to name it Cenizo. Regardless, it is made for our zone. It flowers and can take the heat but it does need to be watered. They can get to be up to 8 feet tall. Sounds live privacy fence material to me.

Cenizo goes by another name Texas Sage. Amazingly enough I already have a couple growing. I had no idea. Also this plant does not appreciate heavy pruning- I’ll have to keep that in mind.

The fragrant or pink mimosa is another thorny shrub great for deer resistance and a nice barrier around my property (I hear it smells good too). Another early bloomer but it ends earlier too (March to July). The flowers are lovely and I would love to add them to my butterfly garden (or barrier I haven’t decided). Here is even more Information.

They will check up on us and I can’t wait. This adventure will be really exciting. I can’t wait to start.

Texas Lantana is something I already have growing and they are amazing. I kind of want more of them because they make a beautiful groundcover. All parts of this plant are poisonous and it is considered deer resistant.

Lantanas are perennial shrubs that can grow 2 to 4 foot tall. Wow, they just don’t seem to be scrubbing out for me. They’re just creeping across the ground. That is strange maybe next year they will perk up, regardless I would love to have more. One more link: Texas Lantana. Just in case you’re considering it. It is really beautiful.

Last but not least is Salvia texana and I want this one. If I got that grant I would definitely get this plant. This is a perennial herb and it grows to be up to 2 feet tall. It is drought tolerant and does well in clay or rocky soil (bonus i won’t need to modify the soil I have). Salvias are a perennial flower and have more than 75 species including autumn sage. That is something we already have in honor of my eldest child: Autumn Sage. This is a rabbit hole I’ll have to go down another time, but every new flower or sage that I have gets me more excited.

I have murdered lavender every single year I’ve tried it but look at her growing it like it’s nothing. I am so jealous of her naturally green thumb.

I will, of course, get more milkweed but that will place where where I want them primarily and have a large area in the middle of the garden. That sounds absolutely beautiful.

Can’t wait and I hope I get it, but I already have some of these plants. The milkweed does grow naturally and I want to entice Monarch butterflies. I want them to pollinate all of my fruit trees and attract all of the bees. I understand the importance of planting native plants and I can’t wait to get started.

I will share more grants as I come across more information.

Zone 8a: Pear Trees

I have heard good things about growing pears in my zone. A couple of my neighbors have some pear trees growing here and there. I know that they can grow in my area and rumor has it they do super well.

Our list of pears that fair well in zone 8a:

1) Kieffer Pear– they do well from 4 to 9 and do well in heat. This tree has a fast growth rate and can grow up to 2 whole feet a year. (I wish I knew the metric system). Yields in September and October, and is self furtile, but they encourage you to plant your pears in pairs just in case.

2) Shinseiki Asian Pear– this pear is preferred by people who like granny smith apples. They are usually imported from Japan (which I thought was cool). This pear tree fruits from July to August and enjoys having friend pear trees to produce.

3) 20th Century Nijisseiki Asia– this is another gem from Japan. This one is a late bloomer and will start to produce after 7 to 10 years. This pear is so popular in Japan that the first tree was declared a national monument in 1935. It’s original name was also Shin Haidaku and that was changed earlier in 1904.

4) D’Anjou Pear– this pear ends in zone 8. It is drought and cold resistant. This pear is not a heavy producer and is said to be primarily decorative and need a small orchard to produce. They attract pollunators and are harvestable in September. (It was also said to be sweet and juicy, for your own records)

5) Summercrisp Pear– these pear trees are bushy and are said to be healthier if you see barely any bark. I thought that was neat. This one is a dwarf tree and is resistent to fireblight.

6) Comica Pear – this pear has a redish blush and is called the sweetest of all pears. Kind of like the fairest in the land. It grows well in our area and is supposed to be one of the juicier pear types.

7) Bosc Pear– this one is a tan/brown, grows fast and harvests in September. This is a hardy tree. The fruit is large and they say it is one of the spicier pears.

8) Hosui Asian Pear– this grand producer. It is drought tolerant but produces better with regular water. Another fireblight resistant. When paired with New Century they allegedly produce better as well

9) New Century Asian Pear– the fruit is round and reminds me more of a pear colored apple. These pears ripen in late August.

10) Bartlett Pear– this is a dwarf pear tree and is the number one pear tree in the world. It is shorter with a spicier pear taste.

11) Moonglow Pear– this one is a strong pollinator for other pear trees. It produces in September and is juicy.

I’ll have to separate them soon

12) Seckle Pear– a desert pear, sweet and a bit spicy this pear is good for canning or fresh. It is also resistant to fireblight. They have small tye dyed brown fruit that produce mid September. It takes 4 to 6 years to produce fruit.

13) Starking Delicious Pear– fruit keeps well in a refrigerator, and is another strong pollinator for other pear trees. It is harvested in August and is allegedly a sweet pear.

14) Honeysweet Pear– harvesting in early September and a self pollinating pear this beautiful tree. The stark Brothers said, “sweet like honey”, whatever that means about sweetness.

Who knows what these are

15) Peggy Asian Pear– it takes 4 to 6 years to produce. This one was discovered in 2003, he named the pear after his wife. It blooms in late August early September. It’s juicy and sweet, which is great in a pear.

16) Chojuro Pear– definitely look like pear colored apples. They alleged it has a butterscotch flavor and like many others originated in Japan.

All pears require full sun. No exceptions and most need pollunators. Sure some self pollinate but they produce better with friends. I didn’t know there were so many but I can’t wait to plant them all.

This is exciting news and I can’t wait to find out what is going to grow in 8a next. This is super exciting.

New groundcover: Trailing Lantana

First, let me start by saying excellent name. When I tell people I am planting lantana they are always curious to what it does and why I am adding it because it sounds exotic and exciting.

“I am going to Lantana.”

“Lantana and I went for a ride.”

Sounds romantic, right? Lantana just sounds like some sort of adventure. I bought this plant specifically for it’s name and found out later that it is useful. Moments like these I like to pat myself on the back.

Regardless, Lantana is not just going to be beautiful with purple and white blooms but she is also very useful. When deciding where it plant her I had a bit of a dilemma because allegedly she spreads like a bad virus. I am surprised she is not a member of the mint family.

They are able to spread so fast because eating their leaves can be poisonous to most animals. They are beneficial in a butterfly garden and are considered useful honey plants. These are things to keep in mind when I plant things. Yes, I like bees but do I want them close to my house?

I need more pollinators attracted to the area but I do not want them at my front door making hives.

Also I like to have monarch butterflies close. I grow a big chunk of our property in these ugly weeds for them. I like watching them flutter around while I plant things and water things

This is, of course, is Trailing lantana and is not useful when you are starting a herb garden but keeping plants like these will benefit your garden in other ways.

So I decided to plant it on this mound that was sitting next to my autumn sage and my ligustrum. I thought this was a good place because it is where I have planted my other bee and hummingbird attractors.

I do know i have seen hummingbirds over there and they are loving these plants that are being planted. I figure if I plant it over here it might deter other animals from destroying anything over here.

Plus, I really enjoy the ground cover aspect. I hate the ugly brown grass that grows over here. I was a multicolored green oasis, but it takes time.

I am very impatient, but I know that planting small things like this will surely invite pollinators to my property. In two to three years I will be adding bee hives, but for now I would just like to invite them closer so that they are able to prepare for my fancy new bee hives that I am saving up for.

Again, I bought more than two so that they would have a homie to spend their time with. Together they will create more lantanas and we will attract all of the bees and butterflies.

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