Persicaria orientalis (Prince's Feather)
|Also known as:||Kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate|
|Habitat:||sun; average to moist disturbed soil; waste places, river banks, fields, gardens|
|Bloom season:||June - October|
|Plant height:||2 to 8 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACW MW: FAC NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Densely packed spikes 1 to 4 inches long at the tips of branching stems at the top of the plant and from the upper leaf axils; spikes may be erect to ascending but are more often drooping or nodding. Flowers are about 1/8 inch across, deep rose pink to purplish-red with 5 petals. In the center are 6 to 8 pink stamens surrounding a greenish ovary with 2 styles at the tip. Cluster stalks are up to 2 inches long, ascending to spreading and covered in spreading hairs.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are alternate, 2½ to 10 inches long and 1 to 6½ inches wide, toothless with a fringe of short hairs around the edges, egg to teardrop to heart-shaped, pointed or abruptly tapering to a pointed tip, heart-shaped to wedge-shaped at the base, on hairy stalks. The upper surface is hairless to sparsely hairy and lacks the dark spot common on related species; the lower leaf surface is more densely hairy on both the surface and veins.
At the base of the leaf stalk is a showy, green to brownish, funnel-shaped sheath (ocrea) that surrounds the stem. The ocrea is distinctly ribbed along its length, the ribs mostly green but often reddish purple at the base, and the tip end more leaf-like and flaring. The surface is moderately to densely hairy and the tip fringed with hairs 1 to 3 mm long. Stems are erect, unbranched or branched on the upper stem, hairy in the upper plant and into the flowering branches, more sparsely hairy in the lower plant.
Fruit is a dry seed, 2.5 to 3.5 mm long, shiny or dull, smooth, flattened disc-shaped, dark brown to black.
The non-native Prince's Feather, also known as Kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate (cute, eh?), has been reported only twice in Minnesota, both in the late 1800s. Wisconsin has recorded it about 20 times in scattered locations across the southern half of the state, but it is more widely established as a garden-escapee in New England. While the flowers are much the same as other pink-flowered Persicaria species, it should be easy to recognize if encountered: the large, broad leaves, showy ocreae, and non-glandular hairy stems and leaves should readily distinguish it. It can also grow much taller than most other species; the garden plant we photographed was easily 7 feet tall, probably more.
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- Prince's Feather plant
- small Prince's Feather plants
- large Prince's Feather plant
- showy ocreae are visible all along the stem
- hairs on leaf underside
- close-up of flowers
Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken in a private garden in Hennepin County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?