A flower tail

No, not a tale.  Not even a tall tale.  This is not the retelling of a ludicrous memory of the happening of a flower.

Instead, one of my flowers, well two now, has a tail!

I needed to research this!

Turns out Lazarus – yes, I name my plants.  and, yeah … there’s a chance he’s beat death a few times. – is an Impatiens (walleriana, specifically).

So, what’s with that tail thing??

I googled ‘Impatiens walleriana flower hanging‘ (after several other failed searches) and found them to be great plants for hanging baskets.  Great, just what I wanted to know… (just a little lace decoration of sarcasm, there.)

I will confess to you (and think of me what you will) that I pride myself in my research ability.  So, when I tell you this is the most frustrating search for me thus far – well, you know that’s saying a lot.

Turns out I need a botany book.

I did finally find a book – an expensive book – Impatiens of Africa with a diagram (see below).

Hello spur!


Ahha, I’ve been looking for you Mr. Impatiens!

from above link:

All Impatiens have five petals and three or five sepals, with the lower sepal elongated into a spur in most species.

The sepal is what protects the bud, or the green petals under the flower petals, if you will.  So the transformation of one into a spur is quite fascinating.

The number of sepals in most species has been very reduced and typically are only three although some of the genetically older species still retain the five. The lower most sepal has been greatly modified and elongated into a nectar filled spur.

The nectar filled spur is the food source for many, including hummingbirds.  Maybe that hanging basket idea is actualy coming in handy.

The basic structure of Impatiens is similar in all species. All have the same type of reproductive column that changes from male to female, and is stationed at the top opening to the lower sepal and spur. When an Impatiens flower first opens, the stamens are visible. The pollen can be very colorful with shades of white, red, or purple and has a fluffy, cottony look that easily flakes off. Within a few days on opening, the cap releases its grip and falls off to reveal the pistils and ovary beneath. Within a few hours, the pistils are receptive to pollen from another flower. In theory, this reproductive habit is to prevent or reduce self-pollination but, this is not always the case. For example there is the ever-popular Impatiens walleriana, that self sows very easily […].

It’s an indicator of where the reproductive column is located.

And, just for fun and the sake of curiosity, here are the polysemy (multiple meanings) of ‘spur.’


About Heather.B

I'm a thirty-something (how did I get so old?!) esthetician (Jan 2009), soon-to-add holistic services (Jan 2013), and then onto business school with a few more endeavors in the works. Stayed tuned though as this changes often. I call it "what-to-be-when-I'm-a-grown-up ADD" - but here's a great quote of encouragement if you're similar in nature: “The experience of centering was one I particularly sought because I thought of myself as dispersed, interested in too many things. I envied people who were ‘single-minded,’ who had one powerful talent and who knew when they got up in the morning what it was they had to do. Whereas I, wherever I turned, felt the enchantment: to the window for the sweetness of the air; to the door for the passing figures; to the teapot, the typewriter, the knitting needles, the pets, the pottery, the newspaper, the telephone. Wherever I looked I could have lived. It took me half my life to come to believe I was okay even if I did love experience in a loose and undiscriminating way and did not know for sure the difference between good and bad. My struggles to accept my nature were the struggles of centering.” – [from Centering in Pottery, Poetry, and the Person by Mary Caroline Richards] I'm a lover of animals (especially my bird and cat), my niece and nephew (and #3 on HER way), and plants; an avid crochet-er (and other crafty things), amateur photographer, baker extraordinaire, dreamer of travels far away (camping and road trips settle me for now), searcher of different music, and beloved daughter of The King. Add in a penchant for being taught new things, and you've got a good idea of what you're dealing with here. I, also, have an endocrine disorder (PCOS) that causes me to have a low carb diet and an insatiable appetite for holistic health (along with a big butt) - I console myself with the reminder that there are worse things, like being eaten by an alligator. Lastly, I've found I get bored easily and procrastinate like it's my job. So who knows how steadily I'll contribute to this. Welcome! If you choose to read this, I've warned you fairly ;), and I really hope you enjoy the variety of my life. Please send me a note and let me know about you!

3 responses to “A flower tail”

  1. monica says :


    I just bought a pot of double impatient flower, wonder about its tail. So, i start to google it around. Glad to found you here!!! Some one like me, many interests and i am master of none.

    • Heather.B says :

      Hello Monica!

      Thanks for the reply – I’m so glad to find a kindred spirit. Also glad to help quench your curiosity’s thirst.

      Happy Tuesday 🙂


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