Plant of the day: Ithuriel’s spear

Triteleia laxa

Here is another one of the lovely leggy lilies that I wrote about last week. Triteleia laxa sports a loose umbel of trumpet-shaped purple flowers. The color is usually the rich royal purple shown here, but it can be paler as well. The way to tell this beauty from the similar species is to look inside and see that it has six classic-looking stamens.

The young plant is spear-shaped when it first emerges from the earth. Evidently the name is (for you literary types!) a reference to Milton’s Paradise Lost, in which the angel Ithuriel finds Satan has approached Eve in the shape of a toad. Ithuriel touched him with her spear and revealed his true form. I think toads are beautiful and charismatic critters, and for me this is the best part of the fable – that a toad is what was chosen to infiltrate the ranks of goodness!

See the six distinct stamens

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