Wheat or Wheatstraw Celosia
Celosia argentea ‘Cramer’s Amazon’
Celosia argentea (Spicata Group) ‘Cramer’s Amazon’
Synonyms of Celosia argentea (33) (Updated on 1-12-21): Amaranthus cristatus (L.) Noronha, Amaranthus huttonii H.J.Veitch, Amaranthus pyramidalis Noronha, Celosia argentea var. cristata (L.) Kuntze, Celosia argentea f. cristata (L.) Schinz, Celosia argentea var. margaritacea (L.) Iamonico, Celosia argentea var. mumbaiana M.R.Almeida, Celosia aurea T.Moore, Celosia castrensis L., Celosia cernua Roxb., Celosia cernua Andrews, Celosia coccinea L., Celosia comosa Retz., Celosia cristata L., Celosia cristata var. castrensis (L.) Iamonico, Celosia debilis S.Moore, Celosia huttonii Mast., Celosia japonica Houtt., Celosia japonica Mart., Celosia linearis Sweet ex Hook.f., Celosia margaritacea L., Celosia marylandica Retz., Celosia pallida Salisb., Celosia plumosa Barr & Sugden, Celosia purpurea J.St.-Hil., Celosia pyramidalis Burm.f., Celosia splendens Schumach. & Thonn., Celosia stricta Hornem., Celosia swinhoei Hemsl., Chamissoa margaritacea (L.) Schouw, Chamissoa stricta (Hornem.) Schouw, Lophoxera comosa (Retz.) Raf., Lophoxera racemosa Raf.
Celosia argentea L. is apparently the correct and accepted scientific name for the Cockscomb. The genus and species were both named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.
Plants of the World Oline by Kew lists 47 species in the Celosia genus (as of 1-13-21 when I am updating this page. It is a member of the plant family Amaranthaceae with 186 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made.
I had been using the name Celosia argentea var. spicata for many years because I was somewhat confused. I was confused because of misinformation online. I thought Celosia spicata was the scientific name given to Celosia with “spicata” or “wheat” type flowers. I couldn’t understand why Celosia spicata (from 1807) became a synonym of Deeringia spicata. Deeringia species, also in the same family, are shrubs or sub-shrubs and Celosia spicata is an herbaceous plant. WELL, apparently, due to misinformation online, that was NOT correct… Celosia spicata, originally named Lestibudesia spicata by Louis Marie Aubert du Petit Thouars in 1807. The name was changed to Celosia spicata by Curt Polycarp Joachim Sprengel in 1824. The name was then changed to Deeringia spicata by Hans Schinz in 1934 and that is actually the current and legit accepted scientific name. They are, I think, shrubs or sub-shrubs… Not herbaceous plants…
I couldn’t understand why there was a Celosia argentea var. cristata (for cockscombs) and not Celosia argentea var. spicata for “wheat” or “spicata”. That was because original specimens of Celosia argentea were, in fact, plants with spicata-type flowers… SO, Celosia cristata, which was later changed to Celosia argentea var. cristata and f. cristata were actually determined to be “varieties” or “variants of Celosia argentea… You will find some websites (not to mention names) using the name Celosia argentea var. spicata but that is not exactly correct… That name was never validly published so any plant website should not use it… I did for many years because I was in error. You can use synonyms as long as they were validly published, such as using Celosia cristata for cultivars of cockscomb, because that name was validly published.
I sent an email to the University of North Carolina because their website is using Deeringia spicata ‘Flamingo Feather’… That is absolutely not correct… ‘Flamingo Feather’ is a cultivar of Celosia argentea. I think they got screwed up because Celosia spicata WAS an accepted name and ‘Flamingo Feather’ has spicata-type flowers. Ummm… Also, one or more of the Wikipedia paged about Celosia argentea gives The Plant List as a reference which hasn’t been maintained since 2013… It was taken over by World Flora Online but they uploaded out of date data fromThe Plant List to their site. A lot of good that did… They are supposed to upload up-to-date data from Plants of the World Online but they have not done that yet… This is why The Plant List and World Flora Online both say Celosia spicata and Deeringia spicata are both accepted scientific names… One site is unmaintained since 2013 and the other used the data from it… The Plant List was an amazing site and I could never understand why they didn’t just improve on it.
There is still confusion and disagreement about the issue with Celosia cristata and it being a synonym of Celosia argentea. There are basically three groups of Celosia argentea to separate the differences in flower types. The Cristata Group (Cockscombs), Plumosa Group (plumed-type), and the Spicata Group (spicata and wheat-type). I think it is a longstanding debate that may only be resolved when more infraspecific names (varieties, subspecies, and forms) are recognized to differentiate the different types. That’s my opinion…
Now I have to change all my captions. I may have to change the name in my folders and re-upload them all…
THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING.
I bought my first seeds of ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ from Johnny’s Selected Seeds in the spring of 2012 when I was living at the mansion in Mississippi. I was a bit skeptical when it said they could grow to 9 feet in the south if they weren’t pinched back at 12 inches.
Information I found online says this cultivar was discovered in Peru by a cut flower grower by the name of Ralph Cramer but I don’t know when. Then I ran across an article on The Gardener’s Workshop website called “White House Horticulturalist Tells All” from 2015… The author of the story met Wayne Amos, who was the White House horticulturist at the time, and he said “he” brought back the seeds from the Amazon… Hmmm…
<<<<2013 IN MISSOURI>>>>
In 2012 when I planted them in Mississippi, I had the ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ on one side of the sidewalk in the backyard and ‘Ruby Parfait’ on the other. It is “possible” that the later seeds I collected “could have been” crossed up. SO, when I planted seeds in the spring of 2013, it was kinda shocking to find that both the Celosia ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ and ‘Ruby Parfait’ had the same bi-color leaves. Ummm… ‘Ruby Parfait’ isn’t supposed to look like that. SO, the early ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ seeds and ‘Ruby Parfait’ seeds are pure, and the later ones were not. I had planted enough so I decided I would save the pure seeds for 2014.
As you can see from the above photo this group of plants looked really AWESOME!. When the plants were young the leaves were bi-color. As it got older, the leaves were solid green. The flowers are very bright!
SO, in 2014 I did plant only the seeds I knew were going to be pure Celosia argentea ‘Cramer’s Amazon’. BUT this photo is the only one I took of them in 2014. I had rebuilt the old flower bed behind the foundation where my grandparent’s home was. A bed I built in the early 1980’s after I moved into the house after grandpa passed away. Too bad I don’t have photos because those plants grew an easy 8′ tall!
In 2015 I didn’t have to plant any of the ‘Cramer’s Amazon seeds. The bigger plants in this photo are seedlings of the Oenothera biennis, Evening Primrose, that grows in a crack on what used to be the back porch of the old house. The Evening Primrose came up like crazy and I didn’t know the Celosia was there until I started to pull the Evening Primrose up. TO my surprise they were thousands of them!
They were just as bad on the south side of the house. I thought this was AWESOME at first but I soon had a HUGE problem. As I will pulling up the unwanted weeds and grass, I was also transplanting Celosia. SOON I had NO idea what I was going to do with them all. I thought about just sneaking around town and planting them here and there anonymously, kind of like Johnny Appleseed did. SO, I took the Amish lady from Wagler’s Greenhouse some. (Getting a bit ahead of myself, in 2016 she had planted them all along the front of her garden along the road… A good 200′ of them.) It did make me wonder what the backyard at the mansion looked like in Mississippi after I left.
This is a photo of a small area behind the old foundation. As you can see, they are pretty thick! I think I may never have to plant seeds again.
As I was thinning, I noticed that some of the Celosia still didn’t have bi-color leaves, even the seeds that were pure ‘Cramer’s Amazon’. SO, I put a few from the south side of the house in a spot all their own. I found some from the other bed and put them on the north side of the house next to the porch. Strange how the leaves are a lighter green and not even bi-color…
Celosia argentea ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ are really nice robust plants. Good thing… They will need a strong root system to hold up these tall plants. This group is part of the seedlings I transplanted to the right side (east side) of the south bed from the left side. Sound confusing?
The above photo shows some of the seedlings after I transplanted and thinned them out. Notice the Evening Primrose growing in the cracks on the floor of the old back porch?
I dug a new corner bed and moved a few here. I had to do something with them!
The above photo shows the plants I transplanted to the north side of the house next to the side porch. These were a few of the ones without the maroon on their leaves. They were LOADED with flowers and many pollinating bees and flies loved them. When hardly anything else was in bloom, the Celosia provided them with food.
Believe me, this was a sight to behold! On the south side of the house, the Celosia argentea var. spicata ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ grew easily over 8 feet tall… The plants in the corner here were the ones that didn’t have maroon on their leaves. The plants behind them did.
These are the other plants in the right side of the bed on the south side of the house.
The flower spike, or inflorescence, have HUNDREDS of small flowers. Each flower has a seed inside that will fall to the ground. After a frost, the flowers will droop downward and the seeds fall out. No wonder they come up so thick in the spring!
The Celosia spicata ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ did very well in 2016, too. I didn’t have to plant any seeds because I had PLENTY of seedlings come up all on their own.
Well, even though the “F” was later than usual in 2016, it was still sad to see it come. As you can see, the flowers are dropping down after the big zap which will allow their seeds to fall out.
The Celosia ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ coming up in the spring… I am always ready for them to come up so I can get the early weeds and grass pulled…
After they get tall enough I can transplant the seedlings where I want them. There are always plenty to choose from.
I like a couple of rows along the wall on the south side of the house… The soil gets a little amending with decomposed cow manure every spring (if I have time). We have cows so we have plenty of “The Good Stuff”. 🙂
Harvey, an Old English Game Bantam rooster always tags along where ever I go when I am outside.
Running out of words…
The Celosia argentea ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ looking very good when the above photo was taken on September 27, 2017. I experimented and planted a row of ‘Brocade’ Marigolds along the front of the bed. Man, did they go crazy!
We had a light frost so not many plants were severely affected. The ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ leaves did change color, though.
Well, after a good ZAP the Celosia argentea var. spicata ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ flowers hang down so all their seeds can drop. GEEZ! It’s a good thing they don’t all come up.
Spring once again and the Celosia seedlings have emerged. We had a very cold January and the winter was fairly dry so I was wondering if they would come up well. Spring weeding on the south side of the house is a little late because I have to wait for seedlings to come up…
The above photo shows the longest flower for 2018.
With age and as the plants get taller, some of the leaves are not as variegated. This plant has nice variegation…
The Celosia argentea ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ make excellent background plants along a wall or fence. Bees and butterflies are attracted to their flowers. I didn’t get any photos of the bed taken after September 25.
As usual, the Celosia argentea var. ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ has come up by the thousands and now I can move a few to their proper location along the wall of the house in the south bed. After it is so hot I don’t feel like working in the bed. 🙂
In my opinion, Celosia argentea ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ has my FIVE GOLD STAR rating for garden performance. They have beautiful dark green and maroon variegated leaves that are unique to the ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ (at least I don’t know of any others). They can attain a height of 9′ even here in USDA Zone 6. If you don’t want them to get so tall, they can be pruned so they will make shorter and bushier plants. They readily self-sow and transplant very well if you water them until they get established (which only takes a few days). After that they are very drought tolerant but, like most plants, appreciate a little water during the heat of the summer when they don’t get enough rain. They perform very well in full sun or light shade. They make great cut flowers, even in dry arrangements (just realize they will drop seeds). Bees and butterflies really like them. Some websites say hummingbirds like them, too, but I haven’t noticed any on their flowers when I have been around. Just give them room because they also branch out.
The only drawback is that self-seeding annuals normally come up when the temps are just right for them to germinate. If you have lingering cool temps in the spring it can take a while. This can be a problem if you are waiting for them to come up before you actually plan your beds. The only suggestion is to just go ahead with your plans, leaving space for reseeding annuals to be transplanted in as they come up. As with the case of this plant, there will be plenty even though you have dug areas they would have come up in. What would you do with all those plants anyway? 🙂
I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant. If you notice I made an error, please let me know. You can always send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FOR FURTHER READING:
PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
KANSAS ROOTS (K-STATE)
STATE BY STATE GARDENING NEWSLETTERS
THE NATIONAL GARDENING ASSOCIATION
A SOUTHERN GARDEN
UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN
THE GARDENER’S WORKSHOP
Just a few notes…
*As mentioned earlier, the Wikipedia page is still using Celosia argentea var. cristata which are now considered synonyms of Celosia argentea… Also gives reference to The Plant List which hasn’t been maintained since 2013.
**Kansas Roots lists the plant as Celosia argentea var. spicata which is not a validly published name… That was one of the reasons I used the name incorrectly…
***The Gardener’s Workshop link is an article about the Celosia ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ at the White House…
****The National Gardening Association lists this plant as Celosia spicata. I submitted a change request to Celosia argentea.
*****The University of Wisconsin is using the name Celosia spicata and says Celosia spicata (=Celosia argentea var. spicata)… It also mentions Celosia cristata and Celosia plumosa which are synonyms of Celosia argentea. The page was written in 2018…