21 May

Brunfelsia pauciflora: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

Brunfelsia is a small genus of flowering shrubs and small trees native to tropical climates of the Americas. The plants in this genus are known for their exotic flowers. Most plants in the genus of Brunfelsia are evergreen and drought tolerant.

Brunfelsias make good specimen plants in sunny or partially shaded parts of the garden where they can grow up to 4 meters and produce abundance of colorful flowers that exude sweet fragrance. Among many popular species, Brunfelsia pauciflora and its various hybrids are perhaps the most common and widely cultivated plants.

Brunfelsia pauciflora

Brunfelsia pauciflora / Image by Tony Rodd

Brunfelsia pauciflora grows as an evergreen shrub that can gain the height of 4 meters. The plant is known for its scented and colorful flowers that change their hues from violet-mauve to pale-mauve and then white on successive days. Thus giving the plant its common name – Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Other popular species include: B. grandiflora, Brunfelsia australis, Brunfelsia isola (Lady of the Night), and B. nitida (Raintree). Most of these species can be easily propagated from hardwood cuttings and grown in a shaded or sunny spot where they are protected from heavy frost.

14 May

Artocarpus heterophyllus: the Jackfruit tree

Artocarpus heterophyllus or the Jackfruit tree, as it is popularly known, is an evergreen tree from tropical lowlands and rainforests of the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. It is also grown in some parts of Africa, and the Americas for its foliage and fruit.

The jackfruit has a special significance in the history, culture, flora and lifestyle of the Southeastern countries of Asia where it is known by many names including Katthal, Pila and Panos. The tree has been grown in this region for several hundred years as an excellent source of food and timber. Even today, it is an important part of the local flora mainly because of its edible fruit which is one of the biggest tree-borne fruits. The round or oblong fruit grown on trunks and weights as heavy as 36 kg. Typically, the fruit has green skin dotted with small spikes. Inside the fruit is found jelly-like pulp that tastes like banana, apple and pineapple.

Jackfruit Tree, Artocarpus heterophyllus

Jackfruit Tree/ Image via flickr

The fruit is consumed ripe or unripe and eaten raw or cooked in several traditional recipes. Besides its fruit, the jackfruit tree is a good source of timber that is used in the manufacturing of furniture and other wooden items. The timber, when seasoned and polished, gives a rich mahogany-like look. Flowers of the jackfruit tree are quite unusual in shape. Both male and female flowers appear on the same tree in early spring.

Artocarpus heterophyllus grows into a large tree and produces dense foliage thus making it a good shade tree. Usually it prefers a rich soil under bright sunlight. In native rainforest, the jackfruit grows quickly to form a sturdy structure.

11 May

Small and Lovely Shrub for Landscapes: Pelargonium trifidum

Pelargonium trifidum is a small sprawling shrub from a large genus of tropical flowering plants, Pelargonium. The plant is known for its beautiful white and maroon flowers that often bloom in late summer.

Pelargonium trifidum

Pelargonium trifidum/ Image by Alan Gregg

Pelargonium trifidum is rather low-growing shrub with sprawling branches and brittle stems. The leaves are succulent and aromatic. When provided with proper support of a tree or fence, the plant can grow up to 1 meter.

Because of its growing habit, Pelargonium trifidum makes a good choice for growing in garden border or under the trees where its gets bright sunlight. As far as it is provided with moderate water and exposure to the sun, Pelargonium trifidum is quite easy to grow and maintain.

Pelargonium trifidum can be propagated from seeds in late summer or from softwood cutting any time of the year.

07 May

Lovely and Unusual, Clianthus puniceus: the Kaka Beak Flower

Clianthus is a beautiful tropical shrub with very lovely and unusual flowers. Originally native to the New Zealand, Clianthus belongs to the family of Golden Shower and the Orchid Tree, and grows easily in tropical climates – average watering, full to partial exposure to the sun and protection from long, frosty winters.

In its habit, Clianthus grows as a scrambling shrub that can reach up to 3 meters, produces evergreen foliage and clusters of claw-like flowers in summer. The unusual claw-like formation of its flowers gives the plant its common names – Kaka beak, lobster claw or parrot’s bill.

Clianthus puniceus, Kaka Beak

Clianthus puniceus/ Image by Tony Rodd

The most common and commercially grown species is Clianthus puniceus. It is an evergreen shrub which is perfect for growing in a warm and sunny spot where it can be grown in a well-drained soil. The claw-like flowers of red or pink color appear in summer. Typically, a mature plant bears flowers in small clusters that make the plant quite attractive and unusual.

Clianthus puniceus can be propagated from seeds or cuttings.