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Obedient-plant

On a recent trip around Lake Erie's Sandusky Bay, I came across a nice colony of one of our most handsome mints, the obedient-plant, Physostegia virginiana. It was growing in a low-lying meadow, and the early buds of Canada goldenrod, Solidago canadensis, are beginning to turn the backdrop field an amber color. Black-horned tree crickets and other of the Orthoptera were in full song, making for a classic late summer scene.

Few of our native plants look better than obedient-plant. Its copiously flowered spires can reach three feet or more in height, and most people would find the color of the blooms appealing. It's also not very common, so encountering a population is always a treat.

The curious name stems from the "obedience" of the flower. The calyx is attached to the rachis, or main stem, in such a way that the flowers can be swiveled as if on a groove. Take a finger and push the blossoms from one side of the stem to the other, and there they'll stay, obediently in their new position.

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