Wheat or Wheatstraw Celosia
Celosia argentea var. spicata ‘Cramer’s Amazon’
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Celosia argentea (Spicata Group) ‘Cramer’s Amazon’
There have been a lot of name changes, and this species is one of them… Well, you know, back and forth… Apparently, the “official” name is supposed to be Celosia argentea, which is the, or was, the scientific name for “plumed” Celosia. The cockscomb Celosia were Celosia cristata and the wheat flowered plants were Celosia spicata. Well, they did this a while back, but I was reluctant to change the name. One reason I didn’t change the name right away is because the botanists keep changing names back and forth. I change names to keep updated then wind up changing the name back again because they change the names again. So, I waited.
Then, in July when I needed to do some updating, I checked Plants of the World Online by Kew and it said Celosia spicata was a synonym of Deeringia spicata. The photo they show of Deeringia spicata didn’t even look like a Celosia! I thought, “WAIT A MINUTE! Something is whacky!” I checked with The Plant List, even though it is no longer maintained and wasn’t updated since 2013, and it said both names were accepted. I did some more research and came to the conclusion that the Deeringia spicata were shrubby plants and not herbaceous plants like the Celosia spicata. Plus, as far as I could tell, not even native to the same countries… Someone is screwy! So, I sent an email to the senior content editor of Kew and he said my plant was Celosia argentea and “The “spicata” bit is just a horticultural indication, I don’t think this is a valid scientific name.” Hmmm…
Celosia spicata Spreng. was the correct and accepted name for this species of Celosia. It was first documented by Curt Polycarp Joachim Sprengel in Systema Vegetabilium in 1824. The Plant List says the scientific name is Celosia spicata Spreng., but Tropicos (Mo. Botanical Garden) says Celosia spicata (Thouars) Spreng……. Apparently, it was first named and documented as Lestibudesia spicata by Louis-Marie Aubert du Petit Thouars in Histoire des Végétaux Recueillis dans les Isles Australes d’Afrique in 1806.
So, I am willing to compromise. I will call this plant Celosia argentea var. spicata ‘Cramer’s Amazon’… After all, this is my blog and I can call it what I choose. 🙂
To say that Celosia spicata is a synonym of Deeringia spicata is completely wrong in my opinion. Who thought the two plants were the same anyway? The people who named both plants, and anytime they renamed both plants, were looking at two completely different species and they knew it.
I am not sure when it was discovered, but it was found in Peru by Ralph Cramer. I think he was a cut flower grower. It would be nice to know what year he just happened to stumble on such a magnificent find. As far as I know, it is the ONLY Celosia that has the potential to grow to 9 feet tall plus and the ONLY one that produces bi-color dark green and deep burgundy leaves. However, not all the seedlings that come up have the bi-color leaves. I moved those elsewhere and kept them away from the ones with bi-color leaves.
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.
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 spicata ‘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 grandparents 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 var. spicata ‘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 var. spicata ‘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 var. spicata ‘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.
I am looking forward to the spring of 2019 already.
In my opinion, Celosia argentea var. spicata ‘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.
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.
*The Wikipedia pages for Celosia is not up to date as far as the list of species is concerned… The species page is for Celosia argentea, which is also not up-to-snuff… Still using The Plant List as a reference even though this page was updated in February 2018…
**The Gardener’s Workshop link is an article about the Celosia ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ at the White House…