Animal-named Plants

A readers recently posed an unusual question: “I am preparing a class for child care providers on growing a Zoo Garden. I need a list of plants that have the name of an animal, i.e. Lamb’s Ear. I want to involve the five senses so I’m also looking for plants on the list that are edible.”

I replied “I visited a delightful children’s garden similarly prepared by Helen Phillips at Callaway Gardens two years ago. Here is the list she worked from: spiderwort, cardinal flower, cardinal vine, snail vine, ponytail grass, canary creeper, toad flax, ‘Squirrel Tail’ barley, ‘Micky Mouse’ cuphea, ‘Baby Bear’ pumpkin, butterfly weed, cat’s whiskers, lion’s tail, rattlesnake bean, lizard tail, cattail, elephant ear, parrot’s feather, chameleon plant, snapdragon, hare’s tail grass, chicken gizzard, wormwood, horseradish, bee balm, goatsbeard, horsetail rush, bugbane, mouse-eared coreopsis, swan gourd, gooseneck loosestrife, lamb’s ear, ‘Gay Butterflies’ gaura, cat’s ears, ox-eye daisy, duckweed, butterfly bush, lion’s mane (or tail), fleabane, tickseed, monkey grass, zebra grass, hens and chicks, turtlehead, goldfish plant, catnip, gopher spurge, cock’s comb, catmint, and rattlesnake orchid.

“I can vouch for the edibility of the ‘Baby Bear’ pumpkin but I wouldn’t offer horseradish to anyone younger than twenty one years old. Catmint and catnip have a pleasant smell and lamb’s ear has furry, plush foliage.”

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