Godetia aka Clarkia

Godetia or Clarkia © Karen Andrews

The garden has taken a bit of a battering this year. The weather has alternated between drought, high winds and monsoon-like conditions. Godetia grown from seed has been this year’s surprise. It has flowered profusely despite exposure in a dry, open site with poor soil. The petals may make the flower look delicate, but it has proved itself far stronger than its appearance in a testing garden year.

What’s behind the Names?

The name on the seed packet states Godetia. However, this member of the Onagraceae or Willowherb/Evening Primrose family has now been lumped into the genus Clarkia. It is another example of those plants renamed by taxonomists for which the horticultural trade resolutely clings to the old name. Godetia commemorates the Swiss botanist Charles-Henri Godet (1797-1879). He published a Flora of the Jura in 1853. Clarkia meanwhile, is named after William Clark (1770-1838) of American Lewis and Clark expedition fame. Perhaps this is more fitting as the plant’s native area is the West Coast of America rather than Switzerland? Local connections rarely seem to have a great hold in botanical names. Botanists traditionally named plants after friends and associates in colonial times. As a result, plants from the far-flung corners of the globe commonly bear the names of European botanists and naturalists.

Satin Flower

The most familiar species is Clarkia amoena. The epithet amoena means pleasant or delightful. It is also commonly known as the Satin or Farewell-to-Spring Flower in the USA. It has certainly brought colourful delight to our front garden and passers-by this summer.

Gallery of Images

References and Further Reading


Karen does not seek or receive any commercial interest or advantage from this blog. She is not promoting any business venture. She simply loves to share fascinating facts about plants. These pages illustrate her love of plants, botany, biodiversity, gardens and creative expression. There is always so much to learn about plant diversity. This blog is designed as a showcase for photography, commentary on plants and wildlife, gardens and other places visited, horticulture and related topics. Viewpoints are her own, not those of her employer.

All above photos © Karen Andrews

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