THE SNAPDRAGON - Antirrhinum majus

The Snapdragon - Antirrhinum majus

The snapdragon - Antirrhinum majus is justifiably one of the most popular of all summer bedding plants. Also known in England as 'bunny rabbits', its natural habitat ranges from Morocco and Portugal north to southern France, and east to Turkey and Syria. However it often escapes from garden cultivation, and naturalised populations now occur widely across northern Europe.

Snapdragon blooms
The name snapdragon, relates to a mechanism that has been evolved by the flower as part of its pursuit in securing a specialised pollinator - the bumblebee.

Similar in action to some orchids, the flower closes over the bumblebee when they enter and deposit pollen on their bodies

As most children will know, the common name has arisen from hoe the flower reaction to having it base gently squeezed. This causes the flower mechanism to snap open like a dragon's mouth.

A lesser known and more sinister aspect to this gorgeous herbaceous perennial are the shape of its dried seed pods.

Each seed pod looks like a miniature skull, complete with hollow eye sockets and mouth agape, and of course this had not gone unnoticed by early European cultures who believed that the snapdragon possessed supernatural powers.

Snapdragon seed head
Usually treated as annuals, these plants are excellent for bedding and for growing on in pots. The taller forms are suitable for cutting and the dwarf varieties for edging borders and for rock gardens. The fragrant flowers are produced on spikes from July until the first frosts.

Snapdragons will grow in any well cultivated soil, but a well-drained light to medium soil enriched with well-rotted farm manure will give the best results. They will prefer a sunny position, however some of the taller cultivars will require staking if they are being grown in exposed conditions.

For related article click onto the following links:
The Snapdragon - Antirrhinum majus
THE DRAGON SKULL SEED POD - Antirrhinum majus

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