Water wonders July 15, 2007
Another plant named for a botanist, James Justice ( 1698-1763) the Scot has the honor of lending his name to one of the most beautiful native plants to adorn the waterways of America. Justice was said to be obsessed with gardening, "sometimes to the detriment to himself and his family." My kind of guy! :)
The American Water-willow, Justicia americana is one of two commonly known members of the Acanthaceae. The other native, Ruellia was a blog topic a couple weeks back.
Water-willow probably achieved its common name with its willow-like leaves. However, the flower is the memorable portion of this plant. The first time it was seen by my novice eyes, I was convinced this beauty was an orchid. It is not, but it is no less stunning. The irregular flowers open into shades of purple, lavender and/or white. It is always found in association with water, the one in the photo resides in the Darby Creek in Franklin Co.
Not only is this native plant gorgeous in its own right, it also creates habitat for a plethora of other living creatures. I was astounded at the numbers of butterflies found while wading in the Darby. And an even more exciting a creature intimately linked to Justicia... but that would be tomorrow's blog. :)