Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Common Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius)

Common, or Eastern Ninebark takes her name from her unusual but beautiful, peeling bark. I bought one for two dollars at the Master Gardener's Annual Plant Sale in May and put her in my garden, before I did some reasearch and realized she's going to get too big - as in up to ten feet wide and tall - for her plot. I'm planning on moving her to a place where she can really spread out this Fall.

A membef of the Rosaceae, or Rose, family, Ninebark is a deciduous, hardy, spring-blooming shrub, but mine didn't bloom this year so we'll have to wait and find out about her flowers first-hand next Spring.. I can't wait to see them! It is native from to Quebec to Tennessee and is cold hardy to Zone 2. It has a medium growth rate and gorgeous yellow to bronze autumn foliage. Mine was wildharvested and will blend perfectly with my "Wild & Wooly" yard and garden theme ;)

I don't know much about Ninebark yet, but I've read that it can be propagated from cuttings or seeds, which germinate without pre-treatment. It transplants easily and apparently grows well in a wide variety of light, moisture, and acidity, making it a very hardy, friendly, adaptable shrub to grow.

Common Ninebark's spring-blooming flowers are an excellent nectar source, and the red fruits which appear in Autumn are eaten by many species of birds (some species flower and fruit in the same period). Physocarpus monogynus, or Mountain Ninebark, of the Southwestern US was used by Indians to relieve pain – the roots were boiled to softness and placed on sores and lesions as a poultice.

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