Wisteria vines were in full flower last week in southern California, and while this member of the pea family can be invasive it also can be quite beautiful. Our Petrea volubilis or queen’s wreath, is sometimes said to be the tropical version of wisteria, but its flowers are much more delicate. Petrea is winding down its late winter flowering, but pretty racemes of lavender/purple flowers remain around the garden house. And there are Petrea vines along the fence by the pergola, including a white one. The corollas fall away rather swiftly, but the calyces stay in place for a long time. Petrea is an assertive vine that will lay claim to the nearest fence, trellis or tree, and it may be cut back quite hard after flowering. Full sun and fast-draining soil will provide for its needs; mulch and a palm special fertilizer will keep it happy.
|Orchid specialist Tom Mirenda.|
Tom Mirenda, the Orchid Collection Specialist at the Smithsonian Institution for the last 10 years, will talk about orchid pollination at 1 p.m. Saturday at Fairchild's 10th International Orchid Festival
At the Smithsonian, Tom cares for and curates an extremely diverse collection of 10,000 orchid species and hybrids from all over the world. He develops and produces huge educational exhibits visited by hundreds of thousands of visitors.
Mirenda trained originally as a marine biologist, but switched to plants and orchids in his late 20s while living in Hawaii. Since then he has worked with orchids at New York Botanical Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden and an extensive private collection at Greentree Estate in Long Island.
If you are an orchid lover, you will recognize him from the two columns he writes each months for Orchids magazine, the publication of the American Orchid Society. He is passionate about orchid conservation and getting botanic gardens, orchid growers and scientists to work together to protect orchids and their habitats. So this year, as the American Orchid Society is relocating to Fairchild from Delray Beach, Tom will have a great message for us.
He promises to bring enthusiasm and wonderful images to his talk in the Corbin Education building. You won't want to miss him!
|Cycas wadei's female cone.|
On a recent Saturday visit to Leu Gardens in Orlando, I found many shrubs of Camillia japonica as well as roses in flower, but my attention was drawn to the beautiful female cone of Cycas wadei. It is known as Wade’s pitogo in the Philippines, where it is native.
By poking around the Internet, I learned that was named in 1936 by botanist Elmer Drew Merrill, the second president of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden who spent 22 years working in the Philippines.
According to The Cycad Pages, an Australian Website, the cycads were found in 1911 but given a different name. A few years later, a United States doctor working in the islands, Dr. Howard Windsor Wade, transplanted several specimens to the leper colony on Culion Island, where the patients grew it and sent seed to New York Botanic Garden, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Berlin Botanic Garden.
Cycas wadei grows naturally in a grasslands on Culion, and is nibbled on by wild boars and deer. A campaign has been underway since 2009 to save the cycad and its habitat on that island. In the 2003 IUCN document Cycads, Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan, edited by John Donaldson, the cycad is listed as having not enough data to determine whether it is in danger.