Wintersweet is a type of evergreen shrub or small tree native to Europe, Asia and North America. It grows up to 10 feet tall with a spread of 6 – 8 feet. Its leaves are opposite, oblong-oval in shape and 3/4 inch long at the base and 1 inch wide at the top. They have 4 lobes (sepal) which are divided into 5 equal parts each. The flowers are white, trumpet shaped and appear in clusters from late summer through early fall.
The name “wintersweet” comes from the fact that it blooms only once every two years. This makes it one of the rarest flowering plants in nature. Winter’s Tears are very poisonous if ingested and even less so when inhaled; however, they do not cause death unless swallowed whole.
Winter’s tears contain several alkaloids such as thujone, butylated hydroxytoluene and many others. These chemicals act on the central nervous system causing hallucinations, delusions and violent behavior. They are extremely dangerous to humans and animals when consumed in large amounts.
The plant is used medicinally in China where it is known as “Qi gong”. However, it was banned there because of its effects on human health.
The closely related species, moonflower and jimsonweed, are also highly toxic. They contain similar psychoactive chemicals. These plants have been used in folk medicine in the past but their use is now limited due to the high risk of fatal poisoning.
Chimonanthus praecox is an evergreen shrub or small tree native to East Asia. It grows up to 10 feet tall and has a spread of 6 – 8 feet. Its leaves are opposite, lanceolate in shape and 1.5 – 2 inches in length.
They have 4 – 6 lobes (sepal) which are divided into 5 equal parts each. The flowers are white or yellow and appear in clusters from late summer through early fall.
The name “chimonanthus” comes from the fact that the flowers only last one day before wilting. In Chinese they are known as “huang yi” and are used to treat skin conditions such as burns and sores. In Korea they are known as “yugok” and have a similar usage although they are also used to make dyes from the roots.
Although this plant is toxic it is rarely fatal. It contains the toxin benzalkonium which acts on the nervous and muscular systems causing symptoms such as convulsions, paralysis and respiratory failure. Children are most at risk from this plant and should never be allowed to play with it.
In the next paragraphs we will discuss about chimonanthus flowers. These plants are great for any garden, they smell amazing and only take one year to produce their beautiful flowers. They are also great low maintenance plants, they don’t need much water and survive frost very well.
They have a distinct look that adds dead of color to any garden.
The names “rainbow woods” and “silver spur” come from the fact that the flowers have a very light color, almost silver, and grow in clusters of seven hence the name “rainbow”. They are native to North America and have been introduced in most parts of the world. They are shallow rooted plants that spread quickly.
Their leaves are opposite, long lanceolate and 1 – 3 inches in length. The flowers are very tiny having a diameter of only 0.2 inches and are white, pink or yellow in color.
The flowers grow in clusters of seven (hence the name “rainbow”) and bloom from late summer through to early fall. They attract bees and butterflies to the garden when in bloom. The leaves turn a golden color in the fall making it a beautiful sight.
They grow up to 6 feet tall and form a nice backdrop to other plants. They grow best in well drained soil, full sun and moist conditions. They can be propagated by seed or root division.
The name of the plant originates from the fact that the flowers only last one day before wilting. In China they are known as “xuan fu hua” and are used to treat eye diseases. They contain the toxin benzalkonium which causes symptoms such as convulsions, paralysis and respiratory failure if ingested in large amounts.
Several species of plants are known as “moonflowers” or “monkshood” or “wolfsbane” and all of them are highly toxic. In this article we will be looking at the species known as Aconitum napellus which is also known as “napellus”. It is a herbaceous perennial plant native to the mountainous regions of Europe and southwest Asia.
It grows up to 3 feet in height and has deep green heart shaped leaves with a white, purple or blue tint. The flowers are purple tinged with yellow. It is one of the most poisonous plants in existence.
This fascinating plant displays beautiful white flowers with a purple center and red veining which bloom from early to mid summer. They grow up to 2 feet in height and prefer partial shade in cooler climates but can tolerate full sun. They are native to the mountainous regions of Europe.
The leaves are palmately lobed with 7 – 9 deeply cut lobes and have a shiny green color.
The name of the plant comes from the shape of the flower which resembles a skull, especially when in bud. The flowers have a very distinct aroma, some say it smells like honey but it also has a “decomposing organic” smell according to others. This could be due to it’s relationship to the rose family.
It is also known as “old man’s fire”
Sources & references used in this article:
CpWRKY71, a WRKY transcription factor gene of Wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox), promotes flowering and leaf senescence in Arabidopsis by R Huang, D Liu, M Huang, J Ma, Z Li, M Li… – International journal of …, 2019 – mdpi.com
Polymer monolith microextraction coupled with HPLC for determination of jasmonates in wintersweet flowers by W Zhang, Z Chen – Analytical Letters, 2013 – Taylor & Francis
Development of β-cyclodextrin-modified silica and polyporous polymer particles for solid-phase extraction of methyl jasmonate in aqueous and plant samples by W Zhang, J Du, C Su, L Zhu, Z Chen – Analytical Letters, 2013 – Taylor & Francis
Plant materials for landscaping: a list of plants for the Pacific Northwest by JH Dick – 1914 – AT De La Mare Printing and …
Taylor’s Guide to Shrubs: How to Select and Grow More Than 500 Ornamental and Useful Shrubs for Privacy, Ground Covers, and Specimen Plantings by R Gossler, M Gossler – 2009 – Timber Press