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Candlestick Tree

Candlestick Tree

I should have realized that gardening was going to be an important part of my adult life as I stood in front of a candlestick tree as a child at the State Fair of Texas.  I stood staring at this beautiful, tropical-looking plant with a corn dog in one hand, cotton candy in another and a lizard on a string “leash” pinned to my shirt.  (As far as the lizard is concerned, I feel compelled to quote Maya Angelou:  “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better”!!!).

Years went by and I didn’t give that fabulous plant a thought until I volunteered as a docent for one of the first Master Gardener fall garden tours.  I spent several hours at Kay Passmore’s garden that day and found myself staring at the candlestick tree again.  She had many in her yard and commented that they reseed freely.

For the past couple of years, we have been planting candlestick trees in the courtyard at Raincatcher’s Garden at Midway Hills Christian Church.  At this very moment, there is a big candlestick tree in the courtyard that just starting blooming.  Every time I work in the courtyard, I find myself standing and staring at this awesome plant, but without the corn dog (vegetarian now) and cotton candy (yikes!).  And, thank goodness, the only lizards in the vicinity are the ones running freely in our garden rather than pinned to my shirt (what were we thinking?)!!!

Our lopsided well loved Candlestick Tree in the Raincatcher’s courtyard

The candlestick tree (Cassia alata) is native to Central and South America.  It is an annual in Dallas and grows easily from seed.  It is best to soak the seeds in water overnight and then plant them directly in the ground in full sun after the danger of frost has passed.  It can grow from 6 to 15 feet in a season and it blooms late summer to fall.  It is a drought tolerant plant and it attracts pollinators to the garden.  Another fun fact about this plant is that the leaves fold up at night.

Next time you’re at the garden, take the time to check out this plant.  Or make a special trip to the courtyard just to see it – it will be worth your effort!

If you have never grown this plant, I strongly suggest you try one next spring.  Hopefully, we’ll have some seeds to share by then!

Jackie James, Master Gardner class of 1993

Pictures by Starla Willis

 

About Dallas Garden Buzz

Dallas County Master Gardeners growing and sharing from The Raincatcher's Garden.

3 responses »

  1. I hope I can get a seed or two. It is a gorgeous plant! Thank you for posting.

    Reply
  2. Zandra, of course, you can! Wouldn’t we all like to have this tree in our yard? And big thanks to Jackie for the great visual of her at the Texas State Fair (which we will miss this year) seeing the tree for the first time.
    Ann

    Reply
  3. I think this late summer beauty is just trying to show up the Esperanza, another showy yellow bloomer who is keeping her blooms to herself in the courtyard this year. While Esperanza seems to need full sun, and only full sun, the Candlestick seems to thrive with a bit of late afternoon shade. I can just picture you standing there with that lizard – didn’t we all want one?!? Now I just enjoy watching them in my garden, too.

    Reply

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