plants of the florilegium

Berlandiera lyrata
chocolate flower

FAMILY:  Asteraceae — Aster family

OTHER COMMON NAMES:  Greeneyes, Lyreleaf greeneyes

SYNONYM:  Berlandiera incisa

ETYMOLOGY:  The genus Berlandiera was named for Jean-Louis Berlandier (1805-1851), a French botanist and physician who collected plants in Texas and Mexico in the years before the Mexican-American War in 1846.

The species epithet lyrata refers to the lyre-shaped, deeply-lobed leaves of the plant.

GEOGRAPHIC RANGE:  Found in OK, KS, CO, TX, NM, AZ, and into central Mexico

HABITAT:  Sandy plains and gravelly hills 4,000-5,000'

BLOOMING SEASON:  April through October

DESCRIPTION:  Perennial plants grow 12-24" tall with an equal spread.

Flowers are 1-2" across and occur singly on long stalks. Yellow rays flowers with red veins on the lower surface surround maroon disk flowers. At the base of the flowers is a whorl of broad green bracts that form the calyx.

Grayish green, velvety leaves are lyre-shaped and deeply lobed, with a large terminal lobe and smaller rounded lobes below, 1-4" long.

Chocolate flower does indeed have the aroma of chocolate, particularly in the early morning. Pulling the ray flowers from the flower head releases the distinctive fragrance, and the stamens have a chocolate flavor when eaten. Native Americans in the West used the plant medicinally and for flavoring.

Because of its long flowering season and unique smell, Berlandiera lyrata is popular with gardeners. Unlike many cultivated flowers, this one is attractive in all stages of flowering. After the yellow ray flowers drop, the green bracts remain around the green central disk, giving the plant another of its common names, Greeneyes. As seeds mature, the cup-like bracts flatten and turn brown as they surround the darker brown seeds.