Berlandiera lyrata

July 30, 2010

HERE AT A GARDEN FOR THE HOUSE, certain plants withhold their perfumes until the time is “just right.” Nicotiana, for instance, won’t utter a sweet word until the sun has set, while lavender, scented-leaved geraniums, and certain roses require the midday blaze to freely release their essential oils. Morning, however, is when the unusual “Chocolate Flower” makes itself known:

From dawn until noon this Berlandiera lyrata emits the distinct air of cocoa-powder; this I cherish while sipping coffee in the Serpentine Garden, where the plant grows. The scent recalls dark, unadulterated baker’s chocolate.

Distinctive too is lyrata’s daisy-like flowers. Sunshine-yellow petals, one inch in diameter, surround a green eye that is dotted with copper-colored stamens. It is the stamens that contain the scent. Undersides of petals are brushed with red, giving blossoms a decidedly Mexican appearance.

Berlandiera is easy enough to grow. In January, winter-sow seeds in a milk-jug, or direct-sow in the garden anytime during July or August. This South-American tourist thrives in my Northeastern, zone 5-B garden in full sun and rather poor, dry soil. Only during times of prolonged drought does it demand a deep soaking. Remove faded flowers to discourage reseeding.

If you are a weekend gardener, or if you long for fuss-free plants, the chocolate flower is probably for you. Its two-foot frame looks well against a tall background of Buddleja or Witch Hazel — two other hardies which require virtually no care.

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Related Posts:
Nicotiana for Evening Perfume
Welcome to My Herb Garden
Lavender-Iced Cupcakes
From Parking Lot to Rose Garden


  1. Katreader says:

    I think I need to find this beauty!

  2. Katreader – the flowers are truly wonderful. I floated one in a little sherry glass this morning, and guess what? It's just as fragrant indoors!

  3. Phoebe says:

    My parents, who live in Dallas, have chocolate flowers all around their porch. They are beautiful plants, and the smell is exactly like unsweetened cocoa! I always assumed they wouldn't grow in the Northeast, but if you have them, my assumption was wrong!

  4. Eric says:

    Kevin, did you winter sow this one?

  5. Phoebe – That is another great attribute of Berlandiera: it can be grown almost anywhere, even in zone 4.

    Eric – Yes, I winter-sowed Berlandiera last January or February. Every seed germinated without a hitch!

  6. Adele says:

    One of the prettiest flowers in my garden. It reseeds and gets better with every year.

  7. Janie says:

    where couldi i find this plant

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