Moving forward with non- Asteraceae thistle-like plants, more precisely with Morina longifolia, simply called Himalayan whorlflower.
With a thick, evergreen rosette of spiny leaves, resembling a Cirsium, this is one plant to scare away all your garden critters! It is said to exude a pleasant citrus/tangerine perfume when bruised (also the flowers). It caught my attention last year at the beginning of August in the wonder garden of Robert Pavlis (Aspen Grove Gardens). Of course that concentrating only on its ‘cool’ foliage makes it hard to notice that Morina actually belongs to fam. Caprifoliaceae. The flowering stems remain impressive even after flowering by retaining the flower calyces, which take on a beautiful rusty- orangey colour. I think this is an overlooked feature of Morina and I am glad I got to see it at this stage.
Of course that the white, tubular flowers which turn pink after fading are also beautiful (the change in colour indicates that they have been pollinated, which is done by moths). They open up in progression, which means an extended flowering period.
Needless to say collecting seeds from such a plant is not an easy task; I personally extracted one seed from the spiny calyx. For the other ones, we all have to say again – thank you :)
Morina longifolia is native to the high Himalayas (regions of Pakistan, Kashmir and Bhutan) but it can be grown very well in Southwestern Ontario, in a full sun, well drained garden location. In its native lands it is also used as an aromatic/medicinal plant.
Propagation: Reported as a warm germinator, but I found discussions saying that sometimes the seed teguments may remain attached to the germinating seeds in the detriment of the seedlings. A period of moist/cold stratification can help with breaking down the hard seed coat; a light scarification or placing the seeds in a moist towel/fridge for a couple of weeks may also work.
The seedlings will resemble those of a thistle, so it is best to tag them early; and don’t think about divisions because it forms a taproot.
One more interesting note one can find surfing the net – the genus Morina was named in honour of Rene Morin, a French nurseryman who, according to various sources, published the world’s first plant catalogue in 1621 – Catalogus plantarum horti Renati Morini.
All that remains now is that we start growing it!