Portraits of plants

The plants described here by using some keywords have been selected according to very subjective criteria.
Yet, despite their differences, they still share some common aspects ...

One common element is, that all oft these plants, for different reasons, are particularly interesting above all for children. That might be because of an unusual leaf shape, form of bloom or fruit, a name that sounds puzzling and of course due to certain properties and applications of the respective plant.

It should be noted, that in most cases the pictures are unfortunately not suitable to determine the exact species. In many cases there are not only very many species, but also quite a range of cultivated varieties (cultivars). Hence a precise identification is usually only possible, if additional details are taken into consideration in particular with specific applications of the respective plant.

You can find experience-oriented information, which plants can be used particularly well in a garden for children in the book "Gärten für Kleinkinder": Organization of a garden area, garden use, garden maintenance and much more (see Publikationen/publications; in German only).

Translation into English with the support by Andreas Lentfer. Thank you!

Alpine Bartsia or Alpine helmet

Bartsia alpina

preview hoep 00003 bartsia alpina alpenhelmOn sunny alpine meadows above the timber line one can find sometimes a plant whose blossoms and upper leaves light up deeply violet. This „gloomy colouring“ prompted Carl Linné to name this plant after one early deceased friend. It was the colonial physician Johann Bartsch who died 1738 at the age of only 28 years in Surinam.

The alpine helmet is interesting also due to another aspect: It is a semi-parasite of the broomrape family and can obtain nutrients from other plants using specialized roots (haustoria). It is pollinated mainly by bumblebees.


Malus spp.

preview hoep 00015 malus domestica apfel„The apple tree is everywhere and everyone well-known. There are so many different forms of it that it is impossible, to tell from all to and describe all.“ (translated by H. Ö.).“

This statement in the book of herbs from Tabernaemontanus (1731) is still valid, even if the diversity of cultivars meanwhile strongly decreased. While there were thousands of different apple varieties with large and exciting flavor differences around 1880, there are today even in large nurseries just 30 to 40 varieties available to plant - a tendency to fall. The supply of the supermarkets shrinks to five or six varieties of apples that are grown and marketed worldwide. Farmer's markets often offer the last chance, at least still know a few of the old and often very valuable varieties of apple, and to help prevent their complete disappearance.

Buddha’s hand or Fingered citron

Citrus sarcodactylis

preview hoep 00005 citrus sarcodactylis fleischfingerige zitroneThe Buddha’s hand is a very peculiar representative of citrus fruits. It originates most likely from North West India, where it is used in various ways because of it’s intensive flavour. Probably its name Buddha’s hand was given here too.

The pulp is not juicy as in other citrus species, but of firm, slightly spongy texture. Although this lemon grows best in countries with subtropical and mediterranean climate, it can also be cultivated in container.

Cauliflower „Romanesco“

Brassica oleracea

preview hoep 00004 brassica oleracea italica romanesco blumenkohlThe spiral arrangement of the flower buds of „Romanesco“ corresponds to the famous Fibonacci series of numbers particularly well. At the same time it offers a good example of the development of so-called self-similarity and thus the mathematical concept of fractal structures.

It is also edible.