Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wildflower Wednesday July 2013: Clammy Weed (Polanisia dodecandra)

Would you plant something named Clammy Weed in your garden?  I certainly did, especially since it was shared by Michael at Plano Prairie Garden when I visited his beautiful garden back in May.  I'm joining Gail at Clay and Limestone for Wildflower Wednesday where bloggers are invited to report on wildflowers in their gardens the fourth Wednesday of each month.



Clammy Weed is an annual which grows in all 48 lower states of the U.S. and into southern Canada and northern Mexico.  When I began my research I thought it was a form of Cleome, and it is still listed that way on some sites, but it's a member of  the Caper family (Caparidaceae) even though the flower buds do not look at all like capers.  Clammy Weed is classified as an herb but my research turned up no culinary uses and only one reference to the possibility that it might have been used for stomach ailments.

The stem feels damp or "clammy" and fuzzy with a slightly weedy scent reminiscent of a bean plant.  So far the deer have ignored it.  Last year I had a similar native plant pop up in the garden but did not let it seed out because it looked much more weedy and I couldn't be sure which one it was.  Clammy weed blooms in full sun in the hottest part of my garden with little or no supplemental water so it is a keeper and, because it is an annual, I will let it seed out and also collect some of the seeds just in case.  One downside is I haven't noticed many pollinators on it.

Back in late June the flowers were just beginning to appear with their red whiskers.


The seed pods are now forming in late July.


I have enjoyed this plant in my garden and next year I'll try for a larger massing of these because they bloom in the heat of summer when everything else is fading.

The details:

Clammy Weed (Polanisia dodecandra)

Hardiness zones:  Annual in all zones, although it has been known to winter over in warm climates.

Height: 1 to 3 feet

Blooms:  Summer, white flowers

Propagation:  Self sows freely

Thank you Gail for hosting this wonderful wildflower meme which has encouraged bloggers to share how they use wildflowers in their gardens.  To learn more about wildflowers check out the links at Clay and Limestone.

31 comments:

  1. From the looks of it, I'd have guessed that it was a relative of Cleome, too. This is a new plant to me and I like it's Cleome-like appearance. Sounds like it's a carefree plant that's worth seeking out!

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    1. It has been carefree this year and I have it in one of the worst spots in the garden. Worth looking for.

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  2. I love clammy weed, one of my favorite natives. Maybe by herb they just meant herbaceous?

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    1. It's definitely a favorite now that I've seen it grow this summer. Possible with the herbaceous vs. herb. I consulted every site with reasonably accurate info and that's one question I still have. It's also possible I need to study the definition of herb.

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  3. Who could resist letting a plant with such a silly name have its way in the garden...and pretty, too.

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    1. I had learned about it while researching the weed which turned up last year. If not I might have wondered what Michael was thinking.

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  4. Some are the prettiest flowers have weed as part of their names!
    I like those light, frothy blooms.
    Happy Wildflower Wednesday!
    Lea
    Lea's Menagerie

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    1. It is a real looker this time of year.

      Thanks Lea!

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  5. That does really look like what I thought was a cleome.
    It is pretty. And, you say the deer have left it alone. Hmmmm...wonder if our deer would, too.
    I just might have to try to find some.

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    1. This one is planted right in the deer track through the yard so they have full access to it if that helps. It's stinky and slimy with fuzzy stems so there's a chance.

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  6. I really deserves a much prettier name, like Cleome!

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    1. It does, Faux Cleome maybe?

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  7. I was going to say -- it reminds me of Cleome, which is one of my all-time favorites. Clammy Weed seems a little more dainty and graceful. I'll consider this for the future! Thanks!

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    1. This is one plant we can both grow in our gardens. Since it grows way up north you might just find seeds on one of your hiking adventures.

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  8. I definitely would have guessed cleome - sure looks like it. Thank you for introducing me to this new-to-me plant Shirley!

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    1. It is still referred to as a cleome on some sites since it definitely looks like it.

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  9. What an interesting wildflower. i hadn't heard of it. It looks very frilly. I haven't had good success with Cleome here but this looks a lot smaller.

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    1. I have not tried cleome here, this one bloomed at about 24" high.

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  10. Scary name! ...but beautiful flower :) looks great Shirley!

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    1. It's a good thing I knew Michael would never give me an invasive weed or non-native thug!

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  11. What a lovely plant! Thanks for introducing it to those of us who were not aware of it. Since Clammy weed has a wide distribution something I've always wondered is whether there are reginal differences that might preclude the plant doing well in a certain area if the seeds were collected elsewhere. Does anyone have any ideas on this? I don't find a Southwest supplier.

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    1. That's certainly an issue with some plants though this one seems the same from photos.

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  12. Replies
    1. I know, it's a surprise to find they are not related although some sites state that they are.

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  13. Oh the poor thing! It does deserve a lovelier name. When I saw the first shot I immediately thought of Cleome too. It's certainly worth growing.

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    1. It it is funny that some of the best plants have turned up with the oddest names.

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  14. Wow, your clammy weed took off quickly. It does not look like they skipped a beat. They produce a lot of seeds so you should have plenty of new plants next year. I am glad you like them.
    I saw a couple of swallowtail butterflies feeding on mine this week. That was the only flower in the garden that interested them.

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    1. I do like them which is good because I'm pretty sure I gave you a funny look when you handed me Clammy Weed! I'll look for swallowtails which I haven't seen in a while and I saw on your blog that they do attract bees. They are producing seeds so something has worked its magic.

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  15. Another plant for me to keep a look out for in the prairie!

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    1. If you do find it in the wild I know you'll show us exactly how it looks.

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  16. Interesting plant, it's pity grows in warm states only. Will try to find any analog to European plant, Shirley.

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