At this time of the season, everywhere you go in North Cal – Monterey, South Bay, East Bay, chances are you will see the bright blossom of Jupiter’s Beard, or Red Valerian (Centranthus ruber). On the streets, in the gardens, at the beach, by the mountain, the pink, crimson and purple colors paint out the picture of spring so vividly.
The Beard of Jupiter
The name must be one of the most unusual for a plant. Why such a name? Well, take a look at this statue of Jupiter:
By I, Sailko, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16480594
Look at the shape of his beard! Here is the introduction of Jupiter on Wikipedia:
“Jupiter, also Jove (Latin: Iuppiter [ˈjʊppɪtɛr], gen. Iovis [ˈjɔwɪs]), is the god of sky and thunder and king of the gods in Ancient Roman religion and mythology…His identifying implement is the thunderbolt and his primary sacred animal is the eagle”
In addition to the shape, as the king of gods (Roman time), Jupiter’s beard must also be enormous and magnificent, a perfect match for the wonder and splendor of the flower.
While you are taking a break to appreciate the flower, if your kids are also around, it can become some good storytelling time too, about Jupiter and any stories in the Roman mythology.
Water Efficient Plant
Jupiter’s Beard is an excellent plant for a water efficient garden. Once established, it needs very little to no water. It qualifies for Santa Clara Water District’s Landscape Rebate Program.
Jupiter’s Beard can grow to be 3 feet tall, and 7 square feet wide. It can be planted as a focal point of a garden, or part of a border for an area or yard.
Jupiter’s Beard grows well in full sun. It can grow in most soil types. Very little care is needed after it establishes.
Most flowers of Jupiter’s Beard are in the colors of crimson, pink and purple. There are also white ones, but those are rare.
The flowers attract butterfly and bees.
In a nutshell, if you want a plant that can grow quite tall, that has splendid and bright blossom in spring and summer, that is very easy to care and doesn’t need any watering once established, Jupiter’s Beard will be an excellent choice.