Wishbone Flower Plant (Trenthina)
The Wishbone Flower Plant is a genus of flowering plants with only three species: T. virescens, T. pectinata and T. bicolor. They are native to South America, but have been introduced into many other parts of the world including Australia, New Zealand and North America.
The Wishbone Flower Plant is named after its shape; it resembles a wishbone. The leaves are arranged in a spiral pattern, which gives them their name. These plants grow up to 10 feet tall and wide and can reach over 5 feet across at maturity. Their flowers are white or pink, depending on the variety.
There are two common types of Wishbone Flowers:
virescens, known as the “wishbone” because of the spiraling arrangement of its leaves. The leaves are arranged in a spiral pattern and resemble a wishbone. Leaves can grow up to 3 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. They have yellow or orange colored petals, while the stamens are red or purple in color.
bicolor, known as the “rainbow” because of its drooping petals. This is easily the most popular type of Wishbone Flower because of its vivid colors. Its leaves are green in color and droop outward from the stem, similar to a fern. The flowers bloom in brilliant shades of red, purple and pink. They have yellow stamens extending from the center.
Both types can reach over 5 feet across at maturity and grow up to 10 feet tall.
Wishbone Flowers are considered an invasive species in many parts of the world, including areas in the United States such as Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina and Texas. They thrive in hot, dry areas and can quickly spread into fields, forests, vacant lots and along highways. They are most common in the southern United States, but are slowly spreading north.
How to Grow Wishbone Flowers
Wishbone Flowers can be grown from seed—which should be done in the spring—or from cuttings. To grow from seed, plant the seeds 1/4 inch deep in loose, fertile soil. They should be placed in a sunny location such as a field or meadow where they will receive at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.
Keep the soil moist and don’t allow it to dry out, but don’t overwater it either. Wishbone Flowers can be slow to germinate, sometimes taking up to two months to appear. Once they start to grow, they grow quickly.
Cuttings can be taken from an existing Wishbone Flower plant by removing a 6-inch piece of stem, stripping away the leaves and planting it in fertile soil. Roots should appear in 2 to 3 weeks.
Wishbone Flowers are considered invasive in many parts of the world because their roots interfere with construction projects, sewer lines and water drainage tiles. They can also cause havoc on horse farms because their sharp leaves irritate the horses’ legs.
In the wild, Wishbone Flowers attract bees, wasps and butterflies to their bright petals. They also provide shelter for birds, small mammals and other creatures within their “arms.”
Wishbone Flowers can be harvested and eaten. The flowers, leaves and stems can be eaten cooked or raw. They have a tangy, sweet taste and can be used in salads, as a side dish or in desserts. The seeds can also be harvested and eaten.
Wishbone Flowers have several medicinal uses as well. The flowers are rich in Vitamin C and can help prevent scurvy. They contain anti-inflammatory properties and can help soothe skin irritation. The tea made from the leaves and stems can help reduce fever and the vapor from the heated leaves can help clear up congestion.
Wishbone Flowers are native to the United States.
Sources & references used in this article:
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