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Astrantia: the flower of protection

Photo by Helga Kattinger from Pixabay

 

The plants of the genus Astrantia, which belong to the Apiaceae, Umbrelliferae, are native to Eurasia and grow throughout Europe, in the Caucasus and in almost all Italian regions on the hills and also in the mountains. It is a hemicryptophyte plant that reproduces by buds at ground level. There are many varieties, all deciduous herbaceous with a posture that can be erect, expansive and in many cases bushy. These beautiful flowering plants have large, very glossy leaves and a deep, dark green color, with deep lobes. They produce small flowers gathered in balls and umbrellas with a white color, spotted with shades ranging from red to pink and surrounded by bracts that can be green or colored and reach their apex in summer, very visible above the foliage. They usually do not exceed 70 cm in height and there are varieties with very pronounced but always delicate flower coloring, such as the Astrantia Maxima which has shades of antique pink.

Cultivation methods

 

Throughout the Caucasian European area, the plants of the genus Astrantia grow spontaneously in the undergrowth in a not too sunny position, but they love rather rich and humid soils, without however stagnation. They can also be grown in areas exposed to sunlight, but in this case they need to be irrigated more often and there is always the problem of soil drainage, which must be perfect in order not to cause rot in the roots, because Astrantia has a rhizome that does not tolerate certain conditions. They can be planted in the garden or in the countryside and are perfect for creating mixed borders even in areas where there are some stones that make it difficult for less rustic plants to grow. Depending on the variety, Astrantia can form beautiful bushes and therefore it is better to plant them about forty centimeters away from each other, so that they will be able to best express their natural shape. They do not need special care but in spring the soil must be fertilized with organic fertilizer, or a slow-release mineral mixture to avoid damaging the roots. Since they are undergrowth plants, mulching is useful in autumn, using prepared foliage, or mature compost to protect the base of the plant.


Diseases and treatments

 

Astrantia e is not afraid of cochineal or other parasites, although it can be a greedy prey for snails. The main care it may need is against stagnation at the base and around the rhizome, so before transplanting it you need to make sure that the soil is sufficiently draining.

Curiosity

 

The name of this plant comes from the Latin word for the stars and symbolizes courage, tenacity and strength. In the language of flowers it represents protection. The inflorescences can also be cut and last a long time in water and even dried. Some varieties such as Astrantia Major can be used as a purgative and diuretic by taking a decoction made with the rhizome, but the flavor is not at all inviting.

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