Becoming Columbo

Some folks of a certain age, remember Columbo as a 1970s television series starring Peter Falk, but long before that, 1788 in fact, there was an Eastern (Michigan south to South Carolina) native perennial, Frasera caroliniensis, commonly known as American Columbo. This odd deciduous gentian relative is a monocarpic perennial that takes between 5-15 years to flower, before it gives up the ghost. Our six year-old specimen below seems ready for the grand event this spring…a stunning 8′ tall flower spike. Columbo isn’t the easiest plant to cultivate, but we learned something new from each of our eight previous failures to launch. The specimen below is growing in our compost amended sandy loam soil, planted in an area that receives 3-4 hours or sun each morning, and shade after that. We’re sad to see it reaching its expiration date, but excited for the potential for seed, which may allow us to finally see if we can master this is the nursery.

Frasera caroliniensis

2 thoughts on “Becoming Columbo”

  1. How very exciting!
    And good luck in your endeavors to harness it. Nine should be your lucky number.

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