The Plants I Love Part 3: Dictamnus Albus a.k.a. the Gas Plant

My first year as a member of the horticulture society, I jumped into a minivan filled with middle aged women and we went on a garden tour of three gardens/growers near where I live.  One garden I will never forget:  it belonged to two really sweet guys who were very much into botany.  There were three distinct rooms in that garden that we were shown, a herbaceous garden with lawn that opened into a massive squared vegetable and herb garden straight out of England, followed by a reproduction of an art deco garden they saw while traveling Europe that included a long oval pond made out of red brick, surrounded by peonies (the sword dancer will probably make the next plants I love section), day lilies, perennials, and a chicken coupe at the end of the lane that looked like a little swiss cottage. Those two may not have realized it but the gardens on that farm outside Earl Gray, Saskatchewan, not only inspired me beyond words but have left a lasting impression on me.

One plant in particular that I snatched up the first time I found it at the garden centre is this one, Dictamnus Albus (the gas plant, not to be confused as google does with actual gas producing plants, or gas using electrical power plants, or certain members of my immediate and extended family).  It took four years to bloom, and there were a few times I didn’t think it would get any bigger than a small clump I could hold in the palm of my hand.  This past year for some reason, the plant took off and bushed out, and up, and threw some beautiful blueberry sundae and cream coloured flowers.

This plant has an interesting history.  Apparently in the summer, I was told, it produces a rather pungent and volatile gas around its foliage and flowers.  The word is that this particular plant produces enough of this gas that if one puts an open flame close enough to the leaves, the gas will burn off all over the plant giving the appearance of a burning bush.

Heaven forbid.

I haven’t tried igniting the plant as of yet, I was too overcome with joy to see it bloom.  I did however bend down on both knees and stick my hooter into the blossoms to see how they smelled.

Awful.

It’s become one of the treasures in my perennial garden and I’m a little nervous about having to dig it up and move it over to the new garden because it’s supposed to be “sensitive about it’s roots being disturbed”…meaning there’s a good chance that if and when I do decide to dig it up, I’m probably going to have to give it a good distance around the base of the plant to try and take up as much soil as possible without disturbing the roots.  God forbid I do.  I thought about collecting seed from the pods and went out a few weeks before Christmas only to realize any seeds that might have been in the pods are long gone.

Mental note:  collect seeds sooner.  I’m such a rookie.

If it doesn’t make it, I’ll have to try and dig another one up somewhere in the garden centres around here, cross my fingers, and hope that it will thrive.  The other thing I’ll do is check out the seed houses and see if anyone has anything.  I haven’t seen anything so far so if you, reading this, happen to know where I can either purchase plants or seeds, drop me a line.  I’d love to hear from you!

The Plants I Love Part 3: Dictamnus Albus a.k.a. the Gas Plant

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