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Gomphrena globosa L. 1753
pronounced: gom-FREE-nuh glob-OH-suh
(Amaranthaceae – the family)
common names: Bachelor’s Button, Globe Amaranth
The only derivation I have been able to find for Gomphrena refers to an ancient classical name for an amaranth. This sounds likely, but I have not been able to verify it. Globosa from the Latin globosus, spherical.
This lovely little edging plant is a native of Brazil, Panama and Guatemala. It is a close relative of the Gomphrena Weed so common here in the wet season.
Bachelor’s Button is a low-growing, compact annual with a typical height of 30–60 cm, with some cultivars reaching a height of 90 cm. It has a bushy, shrub-like appearance with a spread of 30–45 cm, with stiff, erect branched stems.
The showy clover-like flowerheads are borne on long upright stalks. The flowers are about 2–2.5 cm across and a little longer than they are wide. The colour ranges from the original colour of magenta-purple to other cultivar colours of purple, red, white, pink, lavender, and even orange, yellow and blue. It is these numerous, brightly-coloured papery-textured bracts, fashioned together into globose flowerheads, blooming abundantly non-stop throughout the year here, or from summer to autumn in colder regions, that make them appealing to garden-lovers. The true flowers, appearing in between the bracts, are tiny white to yellow trumpet flowers. Gomphrena globosa flowerheads are excellent as cut flowers, being long-lasting. They are probably even better as everlastings for dried flower arrangements, retaining colour and shape more or less indefinitely. The everlastings may be prepared by cutting stems just as the flowerheads are beginning to open, and drying by hanging upside down in a warm, dark and airy place.
Propagate by sowing fresh seed on top of the soil (they require light to germinate) for a day or two in the sun before covering. Alternately, fresh plants may be obtained by layering. A stem is bent down and covered with soil at a node. When it has rooted, the new plant may be severed from the parent and replanted elsewhere.
These plants are excellent at attracting butterflies.
Photographs taken at Picnic Bay 2008, 2010
Page last updated 7th December 2016