Thursday, 6 December 2018

Plant of the Month December 2018

Musa textilis (Manila hemp, Abacá)

Family: Musaceae
Origin: Philippines
Location: Tropical Glasshouse
Accession: 1977

Musa textilis is a species of banana native to the Philippines, grown as a commercial crop in the Philippines and in Central America for its fibre known as Manila hemp, which is extracted from the leaf sheaths. During the 19th century, alongside sugar and tobacco, it was one of the main cash crops of the Philippines, which still produces 85% of world output. As the strongest of all natural fibres, it was once used primarily for rope, but is now mainly used for specialized papers such as tea bags, banknotes and decorative papers. The fruit is inedible due to its many black cone-shaped seeds.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Plant of the Month November 2018

Buddleja auriculata (Weeping sage)

Family: Scrophulariaceae
Origin: South  Africa
Location: South Glasshouse border
Accession: 2018

B. auriculata is an evergreen shrub to 3m, with lance-shaped, dark green leaves, white beneath, and small orange-centred, white flowers in dense panicles in autumn and winter. The flowers are strongly fragrant with a scent which has been compared to Chanel No. 5. It is not hardy below -10 °C, so best grown against a south-facing wall. In the UK, the shrub is often planted as a source of nectar for late butterflies and bees.
Thanks to Maggie Gowland for photographs.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Plant of the month October 2018

Coprosma rugosa
Family: Rubiaceae
Origin: New Zealand
Location: Australia/New Zealand
Accession: 2012

Coprosma rugosa, also known as the needle-leaved mountain coprosma, is a stiff erect evergreen shrub up to 3m tall. It has many interlacing wide-angled twigs bearing clusters of pairs of very narrow leaves. It forms extensive thickets in grasslands and forest margins in lowland to subalpine areas on moraines and river terraces. It has inconspicuous flowers followed by abundant small pale blue berries in autumn, the seed of which is widely dispersed by birds. It is dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and is wind-pollinated. It is very hardy and suitable for hedging.

Thanks to Maggie Gowland for photographs.

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