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Why Are Some Leaves Variegated?


Variegated bishop’s weed (goutweed) in the garden (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

6 October 2022

Variegated leaves add interest to the garden so horticulturalists breed plants with that in mind. Some examples of their success include goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria a.k.a. bishop’s weed or ground elder) and varieties of holly (Ilex sp.).

Variegated English holly in New Jersey (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

When these plants escape to the wild they revert to their normal non-variegated form. Goutweed is excellent example. Now invasive in Schenley Park it always has plain green leaves.

Goutweed that escaped to the wild, Schenley Park, June 2022 (photo by Kate St. John)

Some plants however, adopt variegation on their own. Learn why in this vintage article.

(photos from Wikimedia Commons and Kate St. John)

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