Friday, January 23, 2009
Orychophragmus violaceus February orchid
Joy Larkcom gave me seeds of this plant, which I abused soundly all winter in the polytunnel. When I went out in a recent gale to try and close the doors I found that the ground cover had come loose and battered the poor plants. They were already suffering from me going out in the dark and grabbing random handfuls of greens for salad and from a lack of watering since I don't know when. In spite of all that they decided to flower in the middle of January. I suppose that's why they are called February Orchid's. They are not orchids at all at all but a Crucifer called Orychophragmus violaceus They are pretty enough to be orchids. Their mauve flowers grace the header on this page. The leaves are quite variable some deeply serrated and others quite smooth with a mild but interesting flavour in salads. Joy tells me it has two Chinese names, 'Eryuelan' meaning February Orchid and 'Zhuge cai' or Zhuge's vegetable, after a 3rd centuary general called Zuge Liang. I'm going to try it outside next year.