Sunday, 29 June 2014


White mule ears (wyethia helianthoides)
The Wyethias are a group of stemless sunflowers from the mountains of Western North America. In the wild they form magnificent colonies in meadows and forest clearings. The large rosettes of leaves (known locally as mule's ears) are very striking in themselves as they emerge in spring and the white or yellow flowers, which are held on short stems just above the leaves, are of excellent size and quality. It seems that they are used to plentiful water in spring, from snow-melt, but tend to dry out in summer and may die back as the season progresses.
Mount Diablo, China Wall & Mule Ears
In cultivation however they are rare and seem to be regarded as almost impossible to grow. I'm not sure why. I've raised a several species from seed and although they are sensitive and I have only a few mature plants they don't seem especially more difficult to manage than many other mountain plants.

Wyethia angustifolia
Wyethia angustifolia
Narrow Leaf Mule’s Ears. In this species the leaves are plain green and about 2ins wide. The flowers are golden yellow on short leafless stems just above the foliage. Easy and hardy here so far.
3L pots ~ £8

Wyethia helenioides
Not flowered yet but looking very good - the Grey Mule’s Ears is similar to the above but with bolder, grey leaves and even larger golden flowers. A very choice large alpine.
1L pots ~ £8