Frithia (2010)

By Chris Deem (August 2010)

It was a sunny Tuesday morning in the first week of August. The first of three daisylike flowers had opened. The newly born flower had a regal purplish coloring, highlighted by the sunshine, on each glossy petal. At the center of the flower, soft, golden pollen covered the golden and pale ivory bases of the petals.

An hour after the first, the second flower opened. Both flowers closed on that day in the late afternoon. On Wednesday, the two were joined by a third, and all closed as they had the day before.

On Thursday and Friday, the process repeated. The flowers opened and closed as if they would do so forever. On Saturday, two of the flowers did not close. Their petals were slightly drooping, and their coloring started to fade. On Sunday, all were withered. On Monday, all were dead.

Now all that remained were the plant’s dull green cylindrical leaves. They appeared very old, and many opaque leaf tips were scarred. Three weeks after flowering, this plant was dead. This is the story of a frithia, a plant with a brief life span and flowers that live a long time.

Frithia pulchra was an extremely difficult plant to research. Book after book listed contrary information. Some swore they were winter growers, others just as certainly listed them as summer-growing plants. One book suggested watering in spring and fall. This is what I tried, and my plant still died.

Another cause for many deaths, I’m sure, is that these plants are often misidentified as fenestrarias. Perhaps one day you may buy one of these intriguing little plants. I wish you better luck with yours than I had with mine. I’ll end this story by stating confidently that frithias have a life span of about five years. Well, maybe …