Black Magic Cosmos: Chocolate-Scented Blooms!

Black Magic is a unique chocolate-scented cosmos. 

The variety has its roots in the pine and oak woods of Mexico and has been a favorite of gardeners since the mid-19th century when a sample made its way to England. 

It was widely – and it turns out – falsely —  believed that the dark brown flower with the intoxicating scent had gone extinct in its native range due to habitat destruction. In 2007, botanist Aaron Rodriquez of Universidad de Guadalajara began researching reports of Cosmos atrosanguineus growing wild in Mexico. Rodriquez and his students traced fields of the chocolate flowers growing in areas of Guanajuato, Querétaro and San Luis Potosí. 

Fun fact: In addition to collecting seeds of the chocolate-scented cosmos, Benedikt Roezl documented more than 800 species of orchids.

Chocolate-scented cosmos (Cosmos atrosanguineus) is one of 36 cosmos species, the majority of which are native to Mexico. In 1860, Czech gardener Benedikt Roezl, a prolific seed hunter of his day, first collected the cosmos near Zimapan, in the state of Hildalgo, Mexico. Thompson and Morgan Seed House acquired a sample in 1861 and began selling the variety four years later.

Clones of that initial strain had been grown since the late 1800s at the Royal Botanic Gardens in London and the chocolate cosmos at Kew were definitely showing their age. By the 1970s, the plants had grown wild, scraggly and infertile. They had stopped producing viable seeds and could only be propagated by cuttings. 

Meanwhile in New Zealand, fertile varieties were being cultivated. 

Black Magic was among them, and it featured larger blooms, a neater growing habit and viable seeds.

In 2004, Georg Uebelhart, a Dutch seedsman and owner of Jelitto Perennial Seeds, collected the seeds for Black Magic from a home garden in New Zealand. This exciting variety boasts robust plants that average over two feet tall, with blooms almost two inches across —  and the rich, velvety flowers truly look and smell like chocolate! 

Find Black Magic cosmos seeds here.