In the hands of Picasso or Rubens, an ode to naked ladies might take shape differently. But in Sonoma it looks like this: Late every August, flashes of pink flitter across the otherwise browning landscape, bursting forth from cracks along the edges of old barns or running in parades along a sagging fence.
Behold the naked lady flower, bobbing in the breeze, her slender, mud-brown stems shooting upward toward a pink canopy of petals, taking root in the unlikeliest of places and at the unlikeliest of times.
Bitterly poisonous, she’s a tease for the eyes. In full bloom, her petals roll back dramatically, displaying showy yellow stamens dancing in the center.
A testament to nature’s ephemeral beauty, she calls out to us in the dry heat of Indian summer like a siren. For students, she’s more of an omen, a sign it’s time to be back in harness for the school season.
Before you know it, she’s gone in a flash, to lie dormant again until next year, her pink parade an indelible memory.
Famed Santa Rosa horticulturist Luther Burbank was intrigued by naked lady’s beauty but thought she needed a little something extra. So he crossed Amaryllis belladonna with Crinum lily and came up with Amarcrinum, a not-so-naked lady with leaves on her stems.
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