Friday, May 31, 2013

BIO Blog



Today we'll discuss bio plants, those that are deemed of "botanical interest only." These trees and shrubs are not boring, not at all – at least to me, but certainly you will not find many (or any) of them in your local garden center. There are various reasons for their scarcity, like difficulty to propagate, or that they get too big, or simply because their cousins display larger flowers or better forms, or, for no apparent reason.

Tetracentron sinense

Tetracentron sinense (Szechuan form)


Tetracentron sinense is one such bio tree. It will make a medium-size tree with a resemblance to Cercidiphyllum. I recently saw two types of it at the Rhododendron Species Foundation in Washington state. One was the Szechuan form which I preferred over another from a different province.

It is appropriate, I suppose, that this monotypic Chinese species would be planted in Washington, since the fossil record indicates it once grew there, as well as in Alaska, and even in Iceland. The flowers are not showy, they are small wind-pollinated organs that dangle in slender catkins. In a woodland setting Tetracentron will grow narrowly to fifty feet or more, but will display a more broad canopy in full sun. They require a moist, but well-drained soil, and are hardy to USDA zone 6. Tetra is Greek for "four," but I don't know what centron is referring to; I suppose some central element of the flower. The common name for Tetracentron in China is "Shui Qing Shu," but that's Greek...er, Chinese to me.


Euscaphis japonica

Euscaphis japonica

Euscaphis japonica

Euscaphis japonica

Euscaphis japonica

Euscaphis japonica is commonly known as the "Korean Sweetheart Tree," as if anything nihon-jin would have fondness of anything Korean, but its common name is due to the fact that it was originally introduced into America by J.C. Raulston's 1985 collection in Korea. Don Shadow, a Tennessee nurseryman, coined the "Sweetheart Tree" name because of the heart-shaped seed capsules that turn red in autumn, then open to reveal black seeds which stay attached for a while – a most ornamental effect. Branches are stocky and horizontal, and the thick leaves are glossy green – Euonymus-like – and turn to orange in the fall. The winter trunk is attractive, a slightly furrowed gray with purplish striations. Euscaphis japonica is hardy to USDA zone 6, and has a place, I think, in most any garden. I don't know why we don't see it used more often; maybe because it doesn't readily root like the Euonymus, and I know of no rootstock that it could be grafted onto. So, raising little sweethearts from seed is the (only?) option, and I'll have to find time for that project this year.























Euonymus species


Speaking of "Euonymus-like," the true Euonymus, or "Spindle Trees," consist of about 175 species of evergreen or deciduous small shrubs and trees. The common name is due to the making of spindles from the wood of some species for spinning wool. The tree species are noted for ornamental red fruits in autumn, and the deciduous species are famous for flaming fall color. Garden snobs will insist that the genus is overused, but heck, it is a tough group of plants that survives in most conditions. I'll admit that I can't stand the bushy and creeping variegated cultivars...or should I say that I can't stand the factories that crank them out by the millions? When times were good, these nursery-factories made tons of money on the easy-to-produce crop, but in recent times scads have gone up in smoke...and good riddance to the plants, and to some of the companies as well.

Euonymus phellomanus

Euonymus phellomanus

I will champion a few of the tree-like Euonymus species however, but while I enjoy them immensely, I've never been able to even give them away, let alone sell them. Euonymus phellomanus is the "Willowleaf Spindle Tree," and its leaves do resemble the "Willow Oak," Quercus phellos. It is also called the "Cork Tree" as the ridged trunks can break off into corky plates on mature trees.  While it has been recorded in the wild in Connecticut and Massachusetts, it is actually native to woodland forests in China. Fall color isn't so intense as on some spindles, but rather is a more subdued pastel of pinkish-red, and the fruits are also pink. The species is hardy to -20 degrees F, USDA zone 5, and is well-worth growing if you can find it; but you won't from me, as I gave up years ago on the mission of converting the public, via retail outlets, to obscure Chinese Euonymus species. By the way, avoid eating the toxic fruits, unless you are one of those plant-factory persons, now on hard times and can see no way out.

Euonymus oxyphyllus

Euonymus oxyphyllus ranges from China, Korea to Japan, and is also hardy to -20 degrees F. Though the leaves are said to be edible, I'm sure not going to try them, especially since, yikes!, the plant has been used in gynecological applications. Oxy is Greek for "sharp, acute, pointed or acid," so the leaf is described as one of the above, hence the species name. An oxymoron is a combination of opposites, literally meaning "sharp-dull." The Greek word oxygen comes from oxus meaning "acid," and gennan meaning "generate," because it was believed that all acids contained oxygen. The Atomic Number of the element oxygen is 18, and you should know that it comprises 21% of the atmosphere...but I certainly digress. "Digress" is from Latin digredi, to "go aside,  to depart;" sorry, but regular Flora Wonder Blog readers already know about my obsessive etymological hobby. Etymology: from Greek etymon for "true sense" and logia for "study of." Ad infinitum to me, ad nauseam probably for you.

Euonymus sieboldianus

Anyway, back to a final spindle species, the Japanese Euonymus sieboldianus, which was named for Philipp von Siebold, but has nothing to do with his anus; nor does it Hamilton's, as it is also known as Euonymus hamiltonianus ssp. sieboldianus. Fruits are pinkish-red, but I'm mostly attracted to the winter trunks. Euonymus is in the Celastraceae family, and the Euonymus name originates from the Greek eus for "good" plus onoma for "name," i.e. an "auspicious or honored name." In Latin times that's probably a sarcastic sense, since the Euonymus flower was thought by Pliny to be a forecast for pestilence. Last fall and winter was most pestilent in my opinion, as neighboring nurseries burned thousands of Euonymus, including their bark-based-media with petroleum fertilizers and poisonous pesticides.





























Sorbus commixta




























Sorbus commixta

Sorbus commixta is the "Japanese Rowan," and is native to northern Japan, Korea and eastern Siberia. It grows into a small to medium-size deciduous tree with bright orange-red berries in early autumn, followed by outstanding yellow, and orange-to-red fall color. Sorbus is from a Latin word for "service," as the tree has many uses, similar to a species of birch, Betula utilis, because its wood is "useful." The genus is also commonly known as an "Ash," for its resemblance to the Fraxinus genus. The word Rowan is commonly used for Sorbus aucuparia, the "Mountain Ash," and is derived from the Old Norse name, raun, for a tree. It is a stretch then, to use an old European common name for an eastern Asian species name. The very first tree that I encountered upon entering Kew Gardens in London for the very first time, was Sorbus commixta, and all autumn photos above are from that date.

Magnolia wilsonii

Magnolia wilsonii is a wonderful species, named in honor of the great plant collector E.H. "Chinese" Wilson, but one I've never seen offered in an Oregon garden center. Its scarcity is no doubt due to pendulous flower cups which bloom amidst the foliage, while the public seems to prefer the more gaudy precocious (i.e. blooming before foliage appears) species. But don't sell Magnolia wilsonii short, and you won't if you view the flowers from beneath, as the photo above illustrates. The pendulous tepals are the purest white, and they hide the crimson stamens unless you lift the flower up or view from beneath. Sadly, Magnolia wilsonii is on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Leucothoe keiskei

Leucothoe keiskei


























Leucothoe is an ericaceous, evergreen shade-loving shrub from North American and Japan. The 
genus is known in America as "Fetterbush," as are other genera, for supposedly they impede walkers.
Fetter is something that restrains, from Old English feter, from Old English fōt for "foot." Leucothoe was chosen as the genus name in the late 1700's, though I don't know why the King of Babylonia's daughter Leucothoe would have anything to do with the plant, and certainly it could never survive in the Middle East. The Japanese species keiskei is the most choice of the group, the most refined, and the delicate arching shoots remind me of flowing water. The rich mahogany-red winter leaves are spectacular, but in a subdued, earthy way. Ten years ago a cultivar of keiskei, 'Royal Ruby', came on the scene, I think from England. After growing it a couple of years I called my original supplier, for the growth habit and leaf shape of 'Royal Ruby' were noticeably different than my keiskei. Perhaps it was a hybrid, which would be fine, as long as I knew the identity. Ultimately I threw them out, especially since the supplier said "Well, you win some and you lose some." No mention was made about returning any of my money. If you view the images of Leucothoe keiskei online, you'll easily see that some resemble my photos above, and some certainly do not.




























Acer nipponicum




























Acer nipponicum


You definitely will not find an obscure Japanese maple species, Acer nipponicum, at your local garden center, but still it is one of my maple favorites. Leaves resemble Acer tegmentosum, but are more brownish green, and feature a more rugose surface than tegmentosum. Fall color isn't spectacular though, but in some years it can be pleasantly yellow with brown margins. The species name is an old word for something from Japan, but today Japanese people use Nihon instead of Nippon to refer to their country, and I think "Nippon" carries a derogatory connotation. When I was young and insensitive I would tell a sophomoric joke: "What do you do when it's a little nippy outside?" The answer of course "is to let him in." Ha, Ha. But since marrying an elegant Japanese woman I have improved my ways.

Acer nipponicum is rare in collections because the cuttings are difficult to root (I've tried and got 0%), and since it is in its own isolated group, there are no apparent rootstocks to use (also I've tried). All of my trees are seedling grown, and those are rarely offered. It is hardy to -20 degrees, USDA zone 5.























Acer pentaphyllum




Another interesting maple species, Acer pentaphyllum, is of Chinese origin, and it is threatened in the wild. I used to grow a lot of them, and I thought that at one time I had more in my nursery than were left in the wild. I had no genetic diversity in my collection, as all trees in America (at the time) came from one tree grown at the Strybing Arboretum in San Francisco. This five-lobed species can be propagated by rooted cuttings in summer under mist, from seed, and by grafting onto various rootstocks, such as Acer rubrum.



























Acer pentaphyllum

Cannabis sativa, legal in Washington state

Acer pentaphyllum presents a light "airy" appearance, due to very narrow light-green lobes. Fall color can be straw yellow in some years, or orange-to-red in other years, and this phenomena has occurred on the same tree. You can always detect a stoner around Acer pentaphyllum, because you get comments like "Dude, can you smoke it?", referring to Cannabis sativa, a lookalike. Acer pentaphyllum is hardy to only 10 degrees F, USDA zone 8. I once thought that using hardy Acer rubrum as rootstock might boost pentaphyllum's hardiness, But in a cold winter the top died completely, while the lower rubrum rootstock bursted with new shoots in spring.

Enkianthus serrulatus

Enkianthus serrulatus

Enkianthus campanulatus cultivars are commonly planted by discerning gardeners, while Enkianthus perulatus, a much more slow-growing species, is considered an even more elevated garden choice. Enkianthus serrulatus is a Chinese species that has never occurred in an Oregon garden center to my knowledge, but I was fortunate to be given a plant by Roger Gossler, owner of a specialty mail-order nursery in Oregon. Flowers are larger than with species perulatus, and they are a creamy-white color. In my opinion, the large serrulatus shrub is worth growing for its fresh green foliage (best in partial shade) and for exciting oranges, reds and purples in autumn, even if it never bloomed. For the readers who wish to go into more depth on the Enkianthus genus, I encourage you to see Enkianthus in cultivation in the June 2011 edition of The Plantsman by Clark, Hsu and Camelbeke.

Picea likiangensis

Picea likiangensis

Tiger Leaping Gorge on the Yangtze River

I would be remiss to exclude some coniferous species as worthy specimen trees, if only you could find them to buy. Picea likiangensis is the "Chinese Red Cone Spruce," so named because it comes from the Likiang region in Yunnan. I've seen it in the wild near the Tiger Leaping Gorge on the Yangtze, and it forms a compact pyramidal tree with sharp glittery blue-green needles. In spring cones rise erectly and are a stunning crimson-red, then by summer they droop downward and are a wonderful honey-brown color. The species is attractive, more-so than the larger-growing Picea abies, I think, and appears something like a cross of Picea abies with Picea glauca. Though growing to a medium-size tree, I think that anyone seeing it in cone would certainly want to have it.





























Picea polita





























Picea polita




























Abies pindrow

Juniperus pingii



























Juniperus pingii


This likiangensis species means a lot to me personally because, as I've said, 1) I have seen it in the wild, 2) it is a uniquely beautiful species, and 3) it helped to define the Buchholz niche early in my career. I started in business with a love for trees, but I had little experience to grow and sell them, and I figured I couldn't compete with the large operations growing thousands of common, easy-to-produce plants such as Mugo pine, Alberta spruce, arborvitae and the like, so I operated at the fringe of horticulture by providing species that the nursery mainstream had never heard of before. And I found that there was a market indeed. The American nursery "trade" had for years chugged along without Picea polita, Abies pindrow, Juniperus pingii and some of the plants featured above. And maybe I've had more fun horticulturally in my career than the plant-factory boys.

Sinowilsonia henryi

I was going to include Sinowilsonia henryi in this bio blog, but I found that I didn't have a photograph of it. My interest in this Hamamelidaceae member was really due to my admiration of the two principles in the name: E.H. Wilson and Augustine Henry, both of whom spent years in the Chinese interior when the going was rough. That aside, the reason I didn't have a photograph was because there has never been a scene to record. Like Oakland, California, there's no there there. As dry old Krussmann says in his Manual of Cultivated Broad-Leaved Trees and Shrubs concerning Sinowilsonia henryi: "it is not particularly meritorious." But I've found room in my collection for this plain-Jane species anyway, because that is who I am.


"Talon, thank you so much to grow Sinowilsonia henryi."



Friday, May 24, 2013

Hard at Work?





Paeonia 'Border Charm'

I try to strike some balance in my outlook as I wander the nursery grounds: between enjoying special floral delights versus the overwhelming realization that we are far behind in our work. The weeds are growing, the grass is high and the cows are in the corn. Our maples are lush and colorful, but they all need to be potted up, pruned and staked; but we're still shipping, and of course that always takes precedence. The past two Sundays I have come to the nursery with work in mind, and I do a little, but eventually I'll see something spectacular – like Paeonia 'Border Charm' in bloom – and I race to get my camera before the scene disappears. One thing leads to another, to another photo, and before I know it I have recorded a hundred images. I thus escape the work pursuit, and drug myself instead with flora wonder. Eventually I feel guilty to have abandoned my family, and I return home...where my wife praises me for my toils, for my work ethic and dedication. Ha!


Paeonia 'Erika'

Paeonia 'Erika'


As I said, Paeonia 'Border Charm' took me out of the work mode. The name implies that you should plant it in the border front, and you'll be rewarded with about a week of fun before the blossoms fall apart. As with most flowers, the blossom color will vary from year to year, being pale yellow some years, and more deeply yellow in others. I think it's a matter of light intensity that causes the variation. 'Border Charm' is an "Itoh" peony, an intersectional hybrid where the herbaceous and tree peonies have been crossed. The first to accomplish this was Toichi Itoh from Japan in the 1940's. Near to 'Border Charm' was Paeonia 'Erika', a large boldly-red flowering form, but I don't think it is an intersectional.

Acer palmatum 'Corallinum'

Acer palmatum 'Corallinum'


Our spring has been fantastic for maples, as we barely escaped a late April frost, and it hasn't gotten too hot yet either. Our collection of hundreds of cultivars provides a dizzying array of colors. Certainly all maple species flower, although many palmatum blossoms go unnoticed to all but the true plantsman or observant hobbyist. But I'm not talking about the reproductive flower organs that are colorful, but rather the foliage. Acer palmatum 'Corallinum' has been amazing this spring, and no red blooming Rhododendron or crabapple outperforms it. Our oldest tree is now ten feet tall by twelve feet wide at 33 years of age.


Acer palmatum 'Peve Multicolor'

Acer palmatum 'Peve Multicolor'

Some of the variegated palmatums were at their best last Sunday, such as 'Peve Multicolor', and my camera anxiously devoured it, even though I already have ten photos on our website. I originally saw the selection at Piet Vergeldt's (hence Peve) nursery in the Netherlands a number of years ago, but his small plants were not impressive in October. The only color was light green, and I couldn't understand why he was grinning proudly. I got a start of it anyway, and dismissed it for the first four years. In the spring of year five, however, it finally "colored up," and I'm now impressed enough to produce a few hundred each year – a large number for Buchholz Nursery.

Acer palmatum 'Rainbow'

Acer palmatum 'Rainbow'

Acer palmatum 'Rainbow' perhaps should have been named "Rainbows," for no two look alike, but at its best it is the most popular maple in our collection. I must confess that our growing conditions are very successful for most of the cultivars in production, but a few, such as 'Rainbow', can rambunctiously bolt, which can result in trees with mostly purple foliage. We are very careful about each and every 'Rainbow' scion cut, as we certainly don't want to flood the market with inferior trees. But once stock plants are in the hands of others, I know that greed and stupidity will prevail, and we'll see a lot of watered-down 'Rainbows'.


Acer palmatum 'Hana matoi'

Acer palmatum 'Hana matoi'


The same can be said for Acer palmatum 'Hana matoi', for its shoots also vary in color. Some wholesale growers are accused (by the maple "not quite" know-it-alls) as having a "poor strain." I'm not so sure that that is the case, and probably it should rather be said that these growers are not selective enough in their scionwood. The old cultivar, 'Toyama nishiki', is another variegated laceleaf that has effectively been replaced by 'Hana matoi'. A "not-quite expert" once said that he stopped growing 'Toyama nishiki' because it "always reverted." Again, I don't think so; that's not how I would describe the situation.

Acer palmatum 'Toyama nishiki'

In the past I purchased some Acer palmatum seedling trees that were branched at eight feet tall. I removed most of the canopy, save five or six top shoots, onto which I grafted 'Toyama nishiki', and my scion stock all came from one tree from J.D. Vertrees, who also started with one original scion tree. Over the years I would graft from my first stock plant, assuming that all shoots would result in the same offspring. But after about ten years, my eight-foot-tall top-grafted trees displayed portions that were quite different. Some were reddish-brown with little variegation, some were variegated with white and green and some had more pink than others. So, every scion resulted in differently-colored foliage. I wasn't pleased about the situation because I'm known in the trade as Mr. True-to-Name, and my hodge-podge trees were difficult to explain. But fortunately there were enough goofy customers out there who thought my concoctions were cool, and all trees were eventually sold. The point of this narrative is to illustrate that plants, like people, cannot always be stuffed into convenient, easily-identifiable categories. But while that can be frustrating, it can also be the exhilarating aspect to horticulture.

Acer palmatum 'Koto buki'

Acer palmatum 'Koto buki'

Acer palmatum 'Koto buki'

Acer palmatum 'Koto buki' displayed a riot of color. The Japanese name roughly translates as a "celebration" or a "happy event," although some may find the variegation to be too much, too gaudy (from Latin gaudium for "enjoyment" or "merry-making," while venom gaudium means "empty joy"). But there's nothing wrong with a little fun, if in appropriate places. However, as with 'Rainbow' the stability of the merry-making 'Koto buki' is in question, for one of my three stock trees is considerably larger and less colorful compared to the other two, so we don't cut scions from it.




























Acer rubrum 'Vanity'

Acer campestre 'Carnival'

Acer campestre 'Carnival'

Acer pseudoplatanus 'Eskimo Sunset'

Acer rubrum 'Vanity' is also a colorful cultivar. 'Vanity' will form a large bush or a small tree, and where happy, new-growth can shoot out to five feet...which then flops downward. So it's best to keep it pruned if possible. The same could be said of Acer campestre 'Carnival', as I've seen old specimens which looked horrible. Of course, the same for Acer pseudoplatanus 'Eskimo Sunset'.

Acer palmatum 'Kurenai jishi'




























Acer palmatum 'O jishi'


I'll mention one final maple: Acer palmatum 'Kurenai jishi', a Masayoshi Yano (author of Book For Maples) selection. The cultivar name means "black lion," as the leaf is somewhat like 'O jishi' ("male lion" in Japanese). Kurenai is "black" in Japanese and the foliage is indeed very dark, while new growth is a lighter brown-red, as you can see in the photo above. Yano-san is a wonderful man, and it was a real treat to hang out with him nine years ago in Japan, and then to host him in Oregon for a few days. Even though his lips curve downward (like a sad-face ) when he smiles, he was clearly very proud when he posed with his 'Kurenai jishi'.

Masayoshi Yano with Acer palmatum 'Kurenai jishi'




























Yano-san's wife passed away some years ago, and he remarried, but not to a woman, instead to maples. It all started by purchasing one tree at a garden plant sale, and soon thereafter his collection grew to nearly a thousand, and the great majority of them were in pots placed on stadium-style benches. The pots varied as well, as if he was matching pot color and shape for each individual tree. Everything was watered by hand in spring and summer, a process which took three hours every morning, and it was truly a labor of love. But after visiting the Flora Wonder Arboretum, he declared that he finally knew what he needed to do with his collection. He moved to property outside of Nara, Japan, for the Japanese government was surprisingly willing to develop a Japanese maple park. When you consider that at least half of any government's money is frittered away anyway, to spend a little on a maple park is most worthwhile. I just wish that someone could convince Emperor Obama to bail me out with a maple park.


Aubrieta gracilis ssp. scardica

Aubrieta gracilis ssp. scardica

Alpine trough with Aubrieta


Enough of maples for now, let's continue down the path, as I see the blooming Aubrieta gracilis ssp. scardica ahead, loaded with dainty blue flowers. This plant is in the Cruciferae family (new Latin for "cross-bearing") due to the arrangement of the four flower petals. Aubrieta is a genus named for Claude Aubriet, a French painter of flowers, and wouldn't it be wonderful to have a delightful flower genus named for yourself? The subspecies scardica refers to its location in the mountains of Greece, Albania and Bulgaria. The plant is fantastic in a rockery or draping over a wall, and they're especially nice in our alpine troughs.

Cornus kousa 'Ohkan'

Cornus kousa 'Ohkan'

The Cornus kousas are beginning to flower, but the bracts are not quite their full size yet, nor are the leaves. Still, the cultivar 'Ohkan' was attractive, and I can expect the variegation to develop more contrast in a few more weeks. Then finally, in autumn, the fall color will be a joyous blend of yellow, red and purple.
Corylopsis spicata 'Golden Spring'

Corylopsis spicata 'Golden Spring'

I find myself frequently photographing Corylopsis spicata 'Golden Spring', when (again) I already have plenty of photos. In the photo above you can see the flower spike, which gives the species its name. The plant is commonly called a "Winter Hazel" or "Spike Hazel," as the leaves do resemble the Corylus genus, although Corylus is in the Betulaceae family and Corylopsis is in the Hamamelidaceae family. On the Buchholz Nursery website I describe 'Golden Spring' as "a cheerful deciduous shrub with bright yellow leaves," and I guess I won't alter that in any way.

Mukdenia rossii

Mukdenia rossii

Mukdenia rossii – what an unfortunate name – used to be called Acerophyllum rossii, due to the Acer-like leaves. It has nothing else to do with maples of course, for the genus is in the Saxifragaceae family, as surely a glimpse of the flowers will reveal. It is a slow-growing herbaceous perennial from China and Korea, and is commonly known as the "Hand Fan" due to resemblance to the human hand, but I find that to be a stretch. It is interesting that the Acer palmatum species name is also due to a hand resemblance. So why the genus name had to be changed I don't know, but Mukdenia gets its name from Mukden, which was the old capital of the Manchu dynasty in Manchuria. Was the species name rossii named after Robert Ross, an English botanist who was Keeper of Botany at the British Natural History Museum? I don't know for sure, but anyway, I have grown a clump in a shaded area that is still only one foot tall by two feet wide after twenty years, but then it is constantly competing with an Ajuga thug that was foolishly planted nearby.

Sinocalycanthus raulstonii 'Hartlage Wine'

'Hartlage Wine' blossom evolves to purple with age


I have sung the praises for x Sinocalycanthus raulstonii 'Hartlage Wine' before, for it is a shrub that blooms continuously throughout spring and summer. It is an intergeneric hybrid of Calycanthus floridus and Sinocalycanthus chinensis, and Richard Hartlage was the plantsman responsible for developing the hybrid. He did so at North Carolina State University, so the late horticultural professor, J.C. Raulston, was honored by the cross's name. Raulston was a whirlwind of a person, and unfortunately he died too young in an automobile accident. He visited Buchholz Nursery twice, but each time he stayed for less than an hour, because he was in a rush to get to his next destination. It was amusing to watch him literally running from plant to plant, to take in as much as possible. I stood still in the center of the garden, trying to stay out of his way, but nevertheless I was out of breath just to watch him.


Scilla peruviana

Scilla peruviana

Scilla peruviana


























Acer pensylvanicum


A fun perennial bulb bloomed again for me, Scilla peruviana, also known as the "Portuguese Squill." Surprisingly it is in the asparagus family, Asparagaceae, the same as Dracaena draco, the "Canary Island Dragon Tree" which I featured a couple of weeks ago. Scilla peruviana is not from Peru, as the name implies, and its naming illustrates the sometimes silly rules of nomenclature. The species is in fact native to the western Mediterranean region, and was first described by Linnaeus in 1753. He was given specimens imported from Spain, but aboard a ship named Peru, and he assumed that they had indeed come from Peru. Once a botanical name has been published, it cannot be changed merely because the details are incorrect. The same is true for Acer pensylvanicum, when it should have been pennsylvanicum with two n's. The origin of the word Scilla is from Greek skilla, then Latin scilla for "Sea Onion."

Wollemia nobilis
Wollemia nobilis pollen cone




























Wollemia nobilis
Wollemia nobilis "polar cap"




























Wollemia nobilis female cone

The final plant that I'll feature is Wollemia nobilis, the Australian "Wollemi Pine," a recently (1994) discovered genus in the Araucariaceae family. Wollemi is an Aboriginal word meaning "look around you, keep your eyes open and watch out." It was found by David Noble, a field officer of the Wollemi National Park, in the rugged Blue Mountains surprisingly close to Sydney. The tree is interesting as older specimens develop a bubbly brown trunk that resembles cocoa-puffs. The terminal bud is covered with a white resin which is commonly called a "polar cap." I bought a couple of Wollemi Pine about six years ago from a company connected with National Geographic. The little starts were a hundred dollar apiece, but I took solace that part of the money went to research and preservation. Wollemi can be propagated by rooted cuttings, and I instructed the crew to "do a few." My back was turned and the overzealous propagators cut all of the lower branches, and once cut, the limbs do not resprout. So new growth is only at the top, and before long it will reach the top of the greenhouse, and I doubt the species is hardy outdoors in Oregon. The photos above reveal the male and female flowers, and I was happy to see them sexually expressing themselves.




My career in horticulture has been a tough grind, full of ups and downs, but as you can see I'm fortunate to work in a plant paradise. I'm in a beautiful prison.


"I've got more new plants for you Talon."