There are a few plants that really capture the imaginations of serious gardeners, for reasons of beauty and rarity, and Deppea splendens is one of them. I have grown it for some years, propagated from a single plant I brought from UC Berkeley BG to the NYBG years ago when I worked there. The original plant now grows in a rather inconspicuous place in the last "upland rainforest" gallery in the Conservatory, but it has done very well and it is in a good position to get unobstructed sunlight, though it is not in a prime viewing spot. It is a shrub with a sad history--one Dr. Breedlove discovered it in a Mexican forest and brought back propagation material to California, where a handful of clones survived after a frost wiped out several other clones. Even worse, the forest it grew in was cut and burned for charcoal, so it no longer exists, as far as is known, in the wild. It is not a hard to grow plant, though it is somewhat difficult to root from cuttings. It has the peculiar habit of sometimes losing much of its foliage--I have learned not to panic, just let it do its thing, don't overreact by watering it more, just wait and it will put out a new flush of foliage, often with flowers. Bugs such as spider mites, scale, and whitefly do find it to their liking, but I have been vigilant about eliminating them on this plant--it is too rare to lose to such vermin!
The flowers are borne in hanging multiple tiered chandelier like inforescences, even the reddish sepals are pretty, and the long tubed orange yellow flowers are spectacular. Unfortunately Deppea splendens is self sterile, so it will not set seeds unless another clone is used. I hope one day to obtain seed or another clone so as to set seed on my plant, since its survival as a species now depends on human intervention. I use it in my biology classes as a prime example of a species imperiled by human destruction of our planet's ecosystems, and as an example where humans can make a positive difference by conserving the plant, propagating it, and perhaps trying to reestablish it in a suitable habitat nearby its original location. Students tend to remember its name, especially when they have seen the live plant in full bloom.