Diascia (Twinspur)



Diascia (Twinspur) is a genus of flowering plants in family Scrophulariaceae, comprising 70 species. It is native to southern Africa, including South Africa, Lesotho and neighboring areas. This genus is annual or semi-evergreen perennial; with about 50 species of annuals are found in the Western Cape and Namaqualand, winter rainfall areas; while the perennial species are found mainly in summer-rainfall areas such as the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg.

Diascia has a common name Twinspur, which refers to the two, usually downward-pointing spurs found on the back of the flower. The spurs are used to distinguished the genus from the similar and closely related genera Alonsoa and Nemesia. The spurs contain a special oil which is collected in the wild by at least eight species of bees in genus Rediviva. The bees have been coevolved with the plants, as the females have developed unusually long, hairy forelegs with which they collect the oil from the diascia and feed their larvae. The bees' develop their forelegs that match the length of the spurs of the Diascias that are available in the same locality.

Diascia is an extremely popular ornamental plant worldwide, mostly due to the fact that cultivars (mostly hybrids) are easily grown and come in colorful shades of apricot, pink, coral, lilac, red and white. The dark patches of oil glands may make the flowers of some species appear bicolored. Diascia is suitable for hanging baskets, window boxes and other containers, as well as rockeries and the fronts of the herbaceous borders.

Diascia barberae is the parent of some attractive cultivars, such as 'Blackthorn Apricot' which bears loose spires of apricot-pink flowers from aummer to autumn; 'Ruby Field' has plae green leaves and dark-pink flowers and is a good choice for planting in hanging basket.

Diascia fetcaniensis has heart-shaped leaves and spikes of rose-pink, tubular flowers from summer to early autumn.

Diascia rigescens bears dense spikes of coppery-pink flowers from early to late summer. It is a trailing plant but with stiff stems, so it is useful in containers and at the front of borders.

Plant Diascia in full sun, moisture-retentive but well-drained soil. Deadheading regularly will encourage new blooms to form. Propagations are by seed; division; or softwood cuttings in spring. Slugs and snails are pests that can affect the growth of the plant.

Diascia 'Coral Belle'Diascia 'Coral Belle'
photo sourcehttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Diascia_%27Coral_Belle%272.jpg
authorshipKENPEI
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Diascia 'Coral Belle'Diascia 'Coral Belle'
photo sourcehttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Diascia_%27Coral_Belle%27_1.jpg
authorshipKENPEI
photo licensing

Diascia personata 'Hopleys'Diascia personata 'Hopleys'
photo sourcehttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:DiasciaPersonataHopleys.jpg
authorshipSiGarb
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Diascia sp. (Whisper cranberry red flowers and leaves)Diascia sp. (Whisper cranberry red flowers and leaves)
photo sourcehttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Starr_070906-8426_Diascia_sp..jpg
authorshipForest & Kim Starr
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