Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Plant of the month September 2018

Heliconia bihai
Family: Heliconiaceae
Origin: Central & South America
Location: Tropical glasshouse
Accession: 1982

 Heliconia bihai is an erect herbaceous plant up to 5m tall with leaf blades to 60cm, native to northern South America and the West Indies. It is typically pollinated by bats and hummingbirds. Its flower is an inflorescence with 7-12 upward-facing bright red bracts which hold rainwater used by birds and insects.

Thanks to Maggie Gowland for photographs

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Summer Gathering 2018

Farewell to the Curator (2nd right) from members of the Committee

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Plant of the Month August 2018

Solanum laciniatum (Poroporo, Kangaroo Apple)
Family: Solanaceae
Origin: New Zealand, SE Australia
Location: Australia/New Zealand
Accession: 2012

S. laciniatum is a large evergreen shrub to 3m or more, with pinnately-lobed juvenile leaves 30cm long and smaller lance-shaped adult leaves 15cm long. Its light purplish-blue flowers, 5cm wide, with broadly triangular petals, are followed by egg-shaped bright orange-yellow berries, 2-3cm long. All green parts of the plant and the unripe fruit are toxic; the young foliage contains a series of steroids which are of commercial value as raw material for the manufacture of contraceptives. It is not fully hardy, and is short-lived even with frost protection, but is easily propagated from seed.

Thanks to Maggie Gowland for photographs.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Plant of the Month July 2018

Cardiocrinum giganteum (Giant Himalayan Lily)

Family: Liliaceae
Origin: Himalaya, China
Location: Asian Plants
Accession: 1979

Cardiocrinum are large bulbous perennials with heart-shaped leaves and trumpet-shaped flowers resembling lilies, followed by erect oblong seed capsules.

C. giganteum is a perennial to 2m in height, with leaves to 30cm across, and terminal racemes of fragrant, trumpet-shaped white flowers marked with purple inside the trumpet. It grows best in moist but well-drained, deep, humus-rich, fertile soil. It is monocarpic, the bulbs dying after flowering. It can be propagated from seed or from bulbous offsets; from seed it can take up to 7 years to flower.

Thanks to Maggie Gowland for photographs.

Friday, 8 June 2018

Plant of the Month June 2018

Fraxinus ornus (Flowering Ash, Manna Ash)
Family: Oleaceae
Origin: S Europe, SW Asia
Accession: 1978
Location: Beside native hillside

Fraxinus ornus is a small, round-headed deciduous tree 10-15m in height, with deep green, pinnate leaves and showy panicles of fragrant creamy-white flowers in early summer. It is suitable for drier, calcareous soils, and is frequently grown as an ornamental tree in Europe. It is susceptible to ash dieback, but while this fungus poses a serious threat to other European ash species, F. ornus does not appear to be a natural host of the pathogen. In the past it was cultivated for its sap, and an extract of the sap, mannitol, was used commercially as a sweetener and for producing medicine. Today mannitol can be produced synthetically, and traditional manna production has declined, continuing in just a few rural areas of Sicily.

Thanks to Maggie Gowland for photographs.