Perennial of the Month-- April 2014
(pronunciation at link) (al-keh-mill' eh sare-eh-cah' tah)
Common name: Gold Strike lady's mantle
Family: Rosaceae, rose
Height x width: 12-15in. x 15-18in.
Growth rate, habit: moderate, compact mounded
Foliage: gray-green scalloped leaves, slightly hairy (pubescent); The basal leaves are orbicular in shape and 2-4" wide. Individual leaves are palmately veined and have from 7 to 11 shallow-toothed lobes; more deeply lobed than some other species (like mollis)
Flowers: Apetalous (without petals), ¼" wide in umbels above leaves, bright golden-chartreuse, early summer. Flowers the first year from seeds.
Hardiness: USDA zones 3-8 (-30F minimum)
Soil: average well-drained, moist, will tolerate some drought once established
Light: sun preferred, tolerates part shade
Pests and problems: none significant, generally deer resistant
Landscape habit, uses: rock gardens, ground cover in masses, along walks or fronts of border, butterflies; combines well with blue stars, perennial geraniums, ornamental grasses, roses, Japanese sweet flag (Acorus), columbine, hosta, spiderworts (eg. 'Sweet Kate').
Other interest: Introduced by Jelitto seeds of Europe in 2009; according to legend, the attractive dew drops on leaves could turn ordinary metals to gold. Genus name is from the Arabic name for the plant, alkemelych. The water droplets gathering in the leaves were known by the ancients as "celestial water" and used in alchemy, hence intimately related to this study. The common name is likely from the ancient legend of it being used to adorn the Virgin Mary. Native to Turkey and the Carpathian Mountains. Functionally this plant has been used medicinally since Antiquity for stomach ailments, and to dye wool green. After a rainstorm or heavy dew, the leaves seem to shimmer with little droplets of water.
Other culture: clean up older browned leaves in spring prior to new growth starting, may last 10 years on average
Propagation: Division in spring or fall. Fresh seed germinates quickly, older seed requires cold stratification: keep warm 2-4weeks, then cold (40F or slightly less) 4-6weeks..
Sources: online and local specialty nurseries