Category Archives: Americas

Dracaenaceae: Dragon’s Blood and the language of the birds …

Dracaenaceae Salisb., Gen. Pl: 73 (1866), nom. cons. The family Dracaenaceae has a complex, fascinating history, of great interest will be to see how it unfolds.  It is the family of Dragon Trees, of one, two or three genera and … Continue reading

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Ipomoea batatas – Sweet Potato or When is a potato not a potato?

Many of you will be familiar with the knobbly, red-skinned, orange-fleshed, vegetable known as sweet potato but you might be surprised to learn that it is more closely related to the parasitic thread-like dodders than it is to our familiar … Continue reading

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Brassavola nodosa

A little Introduction The sweetly scented Brassavola nodosa (L.) Lindl. more commonly known as Lady of the Night orchid, belongs to the rather extensive Orchidaceae family, and is part of the Brassavola genus, which contains approximately 21 species. The majority of the Brassavola species grow on … Continue reading

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Leucaena leucocephala – White lead tree

Leucaena leucocephala is widely grown as an agroforestry species in tropical regions. In the 1970s and 1980s the tree was very widely planted as a forage tree legume and seen as a solution to many tropical agriculture problems as it … Continue reading

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Maranta arundinacea – Arrowroot

Arrowroot is a member of the Marantaceae commonly known for the ‘Prayer Plants’ which are grown for their decorative leaves.  In contrast M. arundinacea is grown very much for its starchy rhizomes, although there is a cultivar with variegated leaves.

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Cuphea llavea – Tiny mice

This Cuphea llaveacultivar is named for the mouse ear like upper petals of the flowers.  Cuphea are sometime known as Mexican cigar plants and are members of the Lythraceae.

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Persea americana – Avocado

The Avocado is native to Mexico but cultivation has spread to many countries around the world.  This large tree is a member of the Lauraceae.

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Piper apiculatum

I’m somewhat mystified as to why we have been growing Piper apiculatum and there is very little published on it.  However the discovery of a chromosome count for the species by Rosabelle Samuel in Kew Bulletin citing her address as … Continue reading

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Plumeria rubra – Frangipani tree

Plumeria rubra is a fast growing and soft stemmed tropical tree with highly scented flowers.  It loses its leaves each year exposing the plump green stems.  The flowers, when formed, are highly fragrant as well as very colourful.

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Tradescantia spathacea – Moses in a basket

Tradescantia spathacea (also known as Rhoeo spathacea and Rhoeo discolor) has the common name Moses-in-a-Basket due to the shape of the bract arounf the inflorescences.  This distinctive Mexican species has dark green upper surfaces to the leaves and a bright … Continue reading

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