Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Madison Square Park, Passionflower

Here, at perhaps the busiest entrance to Madison Square Park (at 23rd Street and Broadway), the statue of former New York Governor and United States Secretary of State (for Lincoln and Johnson) William Seward watches me try to snap a photo, despite the many passersby.


Madison Square Park is a favorite of mine. For starters, it's one of the only places in the city where I can find Daphne x burkwoodii and Aesculus parviflora. It's a city park that is just big enough to get 'lost' in, as opposed to smaller pocket parks like Bryant. Finally, there's a rotating display of sculpture and art, lawn spaces for picnicking and of course the Shake Shack.



The park also has a beautiful selection of seasonal planting -- this detail shot above shows tree philodendron (or Philodendron bipinnatifidum) and red canna lilies (Canna s.) are used in lieu of more traditional annuals.

A closer glance shows they also use Passiflora incarnata or purple passionflower. There are about 500 species of passionflower, though this vine species is perhaps best used as an annual vine 'round these parts.



Most amazing about this plant is the showy, unusual flower structure. If you want a more detailed description, check out this site. Basically what appears to be ten petals are actually five sepals alternating with five petals. The sepals are recognizable by the tiny 'awn' or thread at the tip (see the sepals above at 7 o'clock and five o'clock). The stringy threads are corona filaments. Above them, five stamen provide pollen and the three stigma above them are the female parts of the plant.

Passiflora is not named such because it elicits passionate thoughts, but because Spanish Christian missionaries derived symbolism in the flower structure for the passion of Christ. Who knew?

3 comments:

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