Monday, July 13, 2015
There was a flower bed in the gardens of my father’s workplace, the Aydın State Hospital (Turkey) where he was one of the doctors and later the head doctor. That flower bed provided me with memories of lovely plants I encountered for the first time and sometimes the only time. Celosia cristata (celosia is derived from kelos which means burned in Greek) which is commonly known as cockscomb, was one of the flowers I remember seeing when I was maybe five years old or even younger. Since then I never came across this flower until recently.
The unusual structure and the velvety touch of this red flower had attracted me very much. Celosia cristata is an edible flower in the family Amaranthaceae. It is thought to be of African origin. They are grown as ornamental plants as well as vegetables in India, Western Africa and South America.
C. cristata is an annual plant of tropical origin and it is herbaceous meaning it lacks a woody stem. As an annual plant it grows for only about one fourth of a year. It grows up to 1 foot in height, though many are smaller. The leaves are either green or bronze/maroon, depending upon the cultivar. C. cristata are usually brightly colored, usually red, yellow, pink, or orange I’m learning. A variety of colors may be present in hybrids. This plant can grow well in both humid and arid conditions, and the flowers can last for up to 8 weeks.
The plant thrives in areas with tropical climate. However, it can also be grown in summer months in a colder climate. The plants are relatively easy to grow and care for due to the fact that they have few insects that feed on them. Mites though are known to feed on these plants.
The plants are hardy and can be grown easily from the seeds. They are resistant to most diseases but they are also susceptible to leaf spotting, root rot and root strangulation. The former two can be prevented by avoiding a damp soil and the latter by frequent weeding. Also wetting the leaf and flowers should be avoided as they can lead to fungal diseases. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celosia_cristata)
Though the perfect place for them is one with no shade and a well-drained soil, they grow equally well indoors or out. Perhaps I should try growing cockscomb indoors sometime.
The round and very shiny seeds are twice the size of poppy seeds.