The plant in this picture is called a gas plant, Dictamnus Albus ‘purpureus’ since it can supposedly be lit on a calm and hot summer’s night. The plant is rumoured to give off a volatile oil which bursts into flame when a lit match is placed underneath the seed pods or above the flowers, depending on the gardening source consulted.
For the past two summers, I have tried lighting the flowers and the seed pods on various warm summer evenings. Much to my disappointment, nothing has ever happened. True, the neighbours have sometimes come to peer over the fence to see what all the flickering light was about, but the gas plant stubbornly refused to burst into flame. Hope really does spring eternal, doesn’t it, because this coming summer, I am determined to get at least one flicker of a flame.
What I truly love about this plant though is its incredible hardiness and trouble-free nature. Although it takes a few years before flowering, it is well worth the wait. The flowers are breathtakingly lovely and the seed pods in the winter resemble furry versions of star anise.
I really needed to write about a plant that I love tonight – as the snow continues to pile up against the house, I have a bad case of cabin fever coming on. Ah, to warm summer nights and carefree evenings spent lolling about in the back garden.