Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Christmas Plant.........

Euphorbia pulcherrima

The Poinsettia 

                  is a shrub or small tree, typically reaching a height of 2 to 16 ft.                               
The dark green leavesmeasure 3 to 6 inches in length.                                   
 The colouredleaves, which are most often flaming red but can be orange, pale green, cream,pink, white or marbled, are named ... bracts.  

The leaves require a period of 12 hours darkness and 12 hours of bright light to produce their vibrant colours.   This occurs naturally here on the coast of Granada in the period before Christmas and Poinsettia shrubs with their flaming bracts are a common sight in gardens.
The tiny flowers are unassuming and grow in the centre of each leaf bunch.

 The Poinsettia was discovered in Southern Mexico by American botanist Joel Joel Poinsett who wa salso the first United States Ambassador to Mexico and who is credited with its introduction into the U.S.A. in 1828.                  

Long before this, the Aztecs who named it "Cuetlaxochitle" which means mortal flower, knew and valued the plant.   To them it was a symbol of purity and a reminder of the blood sacrifice as well as being a valuable red dye and medicine against fever.                                         
 It has been said that in the days of Montezuma, the last king of the Aztecs, large quantities were transported b ycaravan to his mountainous capital because it could not be grown naturally at that altitude.                                
 When the Franciscan priests introduced Christianity into Mexico it was a simple transfer of symbolism from purity and blood sacrifice to its representation of the blood of Christ in their celebration of Christmas.                                     


                What would Joel Poinsett have thought ofthe vivid modern day cultivars?

    The  death of Joel Poinsett is commemorated in America on 12th December as ‘PoinsettiaDay’.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pyrostegia venusta ..... Orange Trumpet Flower

Flowering now.....
                   ....... is a liana, a vigorous, woody climber, that makes a beautiful ornamental plant with cascades of bright orange tubular flowers.
It is commonly grown in tropical and subtropical areas, as well as in mild Mediterranean climates. 
The plants form dense masses, growing up trees, on walls or over rocks, and are covered with flowers in the cool, dry season.


Flame vine          
            .....or flameflower, golden shower, orange creeper, orange trumpet creeper, orange trumpet vine is a member of the Bignonaceae family and climbs up to 6 metres more more. 
The leaves have paired leaflets (5.0–7.5 cm), and a long, central3-branched, twisting tendril. 
The crowded clusters of flowers are formed in the leaf axils on the tips of shoots. 
The capsule is narrowly cylindrical and filled with winged seeds. After the petals fall off, they hang for a day or so by the style before dropping. In the wild, P. venusta is pollinated by hummingbirds.


Although a dazzling spectacle when in full flower, in some parts of the world it has become naturalised and a weed.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Colletia paradoxa ..... Jet-Plane plant

 Anchor Plant

                Awickedly interesting, spreading, deciduous, nearly leafless shrub from Uruguay, western Argentina and southern Brazil that grows slowly to 6 to 9 feet tall with oppositely arranged flattened 2 inch wide triangular spine tipped gray-green photosynthetic stems, called cladodes, that resemble a ships anchor and small creamy white lightly fragrant flowers, said to smell like almonds, at the stem joints in late summeror autumn.

 New growth has small leaves that are present only briefly. 
Plant in ful lsun in a light to medium well-drained soil where it is drought tolerant. Can tolerate temperatures down to at least 20° F and some claim to as low as 0° Fso long as the soil is kept dry. Prune occasionally to keep dense or contain size. 
Though it is best to plant this plant well away from pathway where onmight find it dangerous, it is an unusually attractive and impressive barrier plant that nothing would dare go through. 
The genus name honors French botanistPhilibert Collet (1643-1718). 
This species is synonymous with Colletia cruciata. Other common names include Crucifixion Thorn,  Thorn of the Cross and Jet-Plane Plant.