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Prosartes hookeri var. oregana

Prosartes hookeri var. oregana

Second in a series featuring plants from the upcoming Perennial Plant Sale, this plant will likely be sold under its well-known (but incorrect) scientific name, Disporum hookeri var. oreganum. The genus Disporum previously contained taxa from both eastern Asia and North America, but enough evidence was gathered that taxonomists were able to justify splitting the genus. Eastern Asian species remained in the genus Disporum, but North American species fell under the genus Prosartes. The Flora of North America account for Prosartes provides references.

The USDA PLANTS database entry for Prosartes hookeri var. oregana provides a common name I'd not previously encountered – Oregon drops of gold. I prefer the more commonly used fairy-bells or Hooker's fairy-bells.

For those of you who like to puzzle over odd plant distributions, this species is typically considered native to the western part of North America, but there is a disjunct population in the Porcupine Mountains of Michigan.

Conservation / forestry resource link: “The Misunderstood Forest”, a manuscript by the late Dr. Gene Namkoong of the UBC Forest Sciences Department. This manuscript was originally suggested as reading material by Dr. Quentin Cronk since the preface by Dr. Namkoong brings the Carolinian Forest to life (particularly important for us at UBC Botanical Garden to understand with the new Carolinian Forest garden under development). From the foreword:

The continuing story of human conflict over forest use and preservation is complex and bewildering, spanning thousands of years. However, since the early 1990’s, a widespread concern has emerged over the fate of the world's forests. Over the past decade or so, this has led to several international conferences and agreements, as well as dozens of books published on the general topic of man's generally destructive relationship with the earth's forests and wilderness. Many of these books provide a thorough analysis and describe local issues - from the historical events to the consequences in society and across the landscape. Among them, a substantial number focus on forestry in the controversial Pacific Northwest of North America.

In “The Misunderstood Forest”, Gene Namkoong set out to dig deeper in a quest to identify the fundamental problem that continues to drive the conflict. He highlights many of our major historical conflicts, from recent events to very long ago, and suggests that the crux in our conflict is a misunderstanding of what forests are, a misunderstanding that is as complex as the history.


That is wonderful.

Prosartes hookeri var. oregana - Z8 - RHS Index of Garden Plants, Griffiths
Prosartes hookeri var. oregana - Z4-9 - A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants, Brickell, Cole, Zuk

Of course being found in Michigan and western montane forests it would be much hardier than Zone 8, yet another example of how poor a reference the INDEX OF GARDEN PLANTS is.

One of three Prosartes, found in British Columbia. Easy to grow from seeds, which many sources describe as inedible, they are edible, but pithy. Rapidly consumed by wildlife, when ripe.

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