Ptilotus ‘Joey’

Ptilotus is a genus of over one hundred species of plants native to Australia and the Malesian islands of Flores and Timor. The plant in today’s photographs is a seedling selection of Ptilotus exaltatus, a widespread plant in Australia commonly known as pink mulla mulla, tall mulla mulla or showy foxtail. Habit photographs of this species from the amaranth family are available from the preceding link or here: Ptilotus exaltatus.

As it is a seedling selection propagated via seed of Ptilotus exaltatus, Ptilotus ‘Joey’ may fall into the trap of being too variable to be considered a “good” cultivar (see this opinion piece, “Not What They Seem” by Tony Lord). Sharon Cohoon cautions that Ptilotus ‘Joey’ is likely to have variability compared to the tissue-cultured Ptilotus ‘Platinum Wallaby’ in her posting on Ptilotus ‘Platinum Wallaby’ vs Ptilotus ‘Joey’. Add into the mix that Benary suggests that Ptilotus ‘Joey’ is a trademark (cultivar names can’t be trademarks), it seems like it might take a while (yet again) to sort out what the proper horticultural name for this entity is. One day, perhaps, intellectual property law, commercial law and horticultural naming conventions will become crystal clear (see the paragraph on Why do we need stable plant names?. Perhaps.

Today’s photographs are courtesy of UBC’s Randal Mindell. As you’ve likely surmised from following some of the above links, these close-up photographs are a detailed perspective on the flower spike. To explain what is in the photographs, I’ll quote directly from one of the links above (Electronic Flora of South Australia): “perianth [outer parts of the flower] to c. 2 cm long; perianth-segments plumose [feathery] with loose denticulate-nodose [with nodes and a finely-toothed margin] white hairs and dendroid [tree-like] hairlets beneath, the glabrous [smooth] apices [tops] fading to rosy and stramineous [straw-like]”.

Ptilotus 'Joey'
Ptilotus 'Joey'

21 responses to “Ptilotus ‘Joey’”

  1. Mary Ann, in Toronto

    What a delight! When the top image first appeared as I scrolled down the page, I thought I was looking at some sort of exotic feathered creature. The white feathery bits (with the string-of-tiny-pearls detail) against that gorgeous pink is…. gorgeous.
    A google image search will yield all kinds of interesting photos of the whole flower and plant, but nothing as stunning as those above.

  2. Lynne

    The first closeup is breathtaking. Thank you.

  3. Marilyn Brown

    I love reading about what others noticed that I didn’t notice — like Mary Ann’s “string of tiny pearls.” Thanks, Mary Ann, and thank you, Daniel, every day.


    Can we get a real image of the plant or flower so that we can learn from what we see. Great photography by no real imagery.

  5. elizabeth a airhart

    in the olden days on stage they would be called
    fan dancers or an erte design delightful
    after a computer break down i need to get into
    the archives and catch up -i have really missed
    my daily visits and reading the commentsand links

  6. Colette Tremblay

    I gave Ptilotus a try this year, but with the cold and wet summer we had, it had no chance to bloom… I hope next year!

  7. Douglas Justice

    Dianne, the first link in Daniel’s text takes you to a web page with a photograph of the plant in habitat. The first reply, from Mary-Ann, in Toronto, suggests a Google search to see other images…

  8. Adrienne

    Ptilotus is a conspicuous and attractive element of the Eremaean (arid-zone) flora of Australia, and right now it is flowering in prolific abundance in the Midwest and Pilbara regions of Western Australia following excellent winter rainfall.
    We refer to the perianth segments simply as tepals, and both Ptilotus and Gomphrena are currently undergoing a revision – but that is a hard task given the number of taxa.
    I will recommend the Western Australian Herbarium online database to give an overview of the genus and species in Western Australia

  9. CherriesWalks

    Brilliant photos!

  10. Mario Vaden

    That sure is nice.
    Almost looked like a feather where it’s light colored.
    The design of plants is remarkable.

  11. Mary Ann, in Toronto

    Apart from the arresting beauty of these images, they are, in fact, very educational.
    It’s easy to find images of the whole flower/plant (follow the links in the description; do an image search using google) — but THESE photos above show the structure at an uncommon level of detail, while at the same time revealing the stunning beauty of that detail.

  12. phillip

    ….the lipsticks and the hair of angels…

  13. Thelan

    I see that the lazy canuck is back to the botany picture whenever He gets around to it. Too bad. Your summer replacement who posted a picture every day must be a from some other country.

  14. phillip

    Often Offensive Slang
    A Canadian, especially a French Canadian…
    canuck…?…..people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones…wtf…?

  15. Douglas Justice

    The summer student to which Tbelan refers, Stephan, used his time productively and did a great job. He spent the majority of his time at work taking photos and doing research for the blog. It shouldn’t be surprising that he published a new picture every day. Daniel is the garden’s Education and Technology Manager. He has an enormous amount on his plate, but takes time to publish this blog during his busy work day.

    Canadians aren’t offended by the term “canuck,” but the inferred insult is way off target and certainly has no place in a public forum.

  16. Dana

    Ptilotus Joey was a big hit at one of the US Trial Gardens in 2008, so we tried it in 2009 in our Demonstration Teaching Gardens in Tulsa, OK. Only afterward, we discovered that this plant did not fare as well at other Trial Gardens in the US and it is now recommended for use in mixed containers until the peculiarities of its temperature and moisture demands are sorted out.

  17. Dana

    As to the Diane above that requested a photo of the entire plant. Just Google Ptilotus exaltatus ‘Joey’ click on Images and you will be treated to an eye-popping page of beautiful images of this plant.

  18. Mary Ann, in Toronto

    Good heavens! I don’t know whether it’s best to ignore the rudeness or to name it for what it is.
    Daniel, I regret that you have to return from your leave to this (five posts above), but I take comfort — and I hope you do, too — in knowing that those of us who deeply appreciate this page, far outnumber the others.
    Here I am, at my computer in Toronto, and, without any effort or cost on my part, this combination of beauty and science lands in my inbox just about every day. Solely for the love and appreciation of beauty, of science, of botany.
    I have only gratitude. Nothing whatsoever on earth to complain about. Thank you for your offerings — the gorgeous images, the write-ups, the links — and all the effort that goes into it.

  19. Hazel

    Hear, hear Mary Ann. Couldn’t agree with you more! As a long time viewer of these posts, I really appreciate what goes into them. Thanks Daniel for all that you do.

  20. elizabeth a airhart

    links and google images arizona wild flowers
    and other sites- try the side bar to the
    right really interesting blogs etc

  21. Alexander Jablanczy

    It actually was full moon a couple of nights ago and as we used to say in the ER get ready the lunatics are out tonight. One even got in here somehow.

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