Darmera peltata

Darmera peltata, Photo: Michael Lahanas

Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Divisio: Magnoliophyta
Classis: Magnoliopsida
Ordo: Saxifragales
Familia: Saxifragaceae
Genus: Darmera
Species: Darmera peltata

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Darmera peltata (Indian rhubarb or, ambiguously, "umbrella plant") is the only species within the genus Darmera in the family Saxifragaceae. It is a slowly-spreading rhizomatous perennial from mountain streamsides in woodland in the western United States (southwestern Oregon to northwestern California).

In late spring the flowers emerge before the leaves, with rounded cymes of numerous five-petalled white to bright pink flowers (measuring up to 1.5cm across each) borne on flower stems up to 2m long. The leaves are peltate, rounded, deeply lobed, coarsely-toothed, conspicuously veined and dark green, also on stems up to 2m in height. The leaves turn red in autumn.

In gardens, Darmera peltata flourishes in pond margins and bog gardens, where it forms an imposing umbrella-like clump. It is suited to smaller gardens where there is no room for Gunnera manicata or Gunnera tinctoria, unrelated plants that are somewhat similar in appearance, but much larger.

References

* Brickell, Christopher, 1996, The Royal Horticultural Society A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants London: RHS/Dorling Kindersley ISBN 0-7513-0436-0

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