We recently spent a wonderful week on the big island of Hawaii. One warm and muggy day we visited the Hawaiian Botanical Tropical Gardens. Going down the walkway into the park, I had the illusion of entering Jurassic Park. There were green plants, bushes, trees in every direction – up, down & all around. Adding to the fantasy were wild orchids in the trees, colorful tropical plants, and splashing waterfalls.
Along one side of the path I noticed spiky looking white flowers on bright green foliage. Looking closer, I discovered an enchanting bloom with long, delicate protruding hairs. My first thought was “that looks just like cat whiskers!”. After searching for the name signage, you can easily guess what name I discovered.
Since this is my new favorite plant, I wanted to find out more about it and how to grow it. From East Asia, its proper botanical name is Orthosiphon aristatus, but is better known as Java tea. Used in herbal medicine, this mint related plant is known to aid in treatment of kidney stones, gallstones, urinary tract infections and much more.
However useful, I like the plant for its ornamental beauty. The bright white, long stamens have a touch of whimsy and look striking against the deep green leaves. And as a bonus, the nectar attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
Growing best in a tropical climate, with proper care Cat’s Whiskers can be grown in sunny climates. I am determined to give it a try and start my own enchanted garden!
Are you a cat lover? I invite you to visit my website for unique and whimsical gifts & décor with a cat theme. And I welcome you to post any photos of your Cat’s Whiskers plant to this blog in the comments!