Plant Common Name
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Just like blooming Virginia bluebells, curlyheads are a sign of spring's return. The nodding, urn- to bell-shaped flowers are the "curlyheads" of fame, but the ensuing seed head is an ornamental spectacle. This clump-forming herbaceous perennial is a rare native of the dry woodlands from southern New Jersey to northern Georgia. It often pops up over limestone rocks in sunny woodland openings.
The stems grow erect or partially flop; this is not a vining clematis species whatsoever. The hairy stems support large, tapering oval leaves that are sparsely hairy and a light green. In early spring, a stem rises above the foliage to bear a single, nodding flower that's shaped like an elongated, upside-down urn. The leather petal-like sepals are tan-beige to pale yellow, sometimes blushed with purple. Insects pollinate the flowers that then turn into a curious but pretty seed head. It's rounded and golden-tan, with hairy arms that look like a spider or curled grass seed head. The seed heads make this flowering perennial very ornamental heading into the summer months.
Grow curlyheads in non-acidic soils that are average to gritty in texture. They tolerate full sun to light shade, such as on the edge of a woodland. An evenly moist, but well-drained soil encourages the healthiest plants, but curlyheads are highly drought tolerant once established. Use this perennial in wildflower meadow or rockery, or in the drier, unirrigated edges of the woodland garden.
AHS Heat Zone
8 - 1
USDA Hardiness Zone
6 - 8
Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade
8"-15" / 20.3cm - 38.1cm
12"-16" / 30.5cm - 40.6cm
Early Spring, Spring
Mid-Atlantic United States, Southeastern United States