Friday, January 1, 2010

Falkia repens

One of the cutest plants which I brought back from South Africa some years ago is Falkia repens, a tiny member of the morning glory family. It looks and behaves like a very refined small bindweed--much smaller nicely shaped foliage, runs but not as fast as Convolvulus spp do, and it is in perpetual flower once it gets going in early summer. It is not very hardy, though it will take frost it will not survive our winters, even with protection. I brought some out to a nursery in California a few years ago, and they listed it for a while, so hopefully it is well established in cultivation here in the USA by now. I plant mine out in the school garden in a sunny spot and keep taller plants from engulfing it, then dig out divisions to pot up for wintering under lights indoors. The shallow stolons are easy to lift and propagate, and grow fast, but since the plant itself is so small, and is a dense grower, it is not able to quite conquer the world like its larger relatives. I have never gotten seeds on it, though I read that the seedpods bury themselves in the ground, but I have looked for them to no avail. I collected the original plant in the South Cape along a roadside not far from Mossel Bay. I was collecting with Ernst Van Jaarsveld of the NBG, Kirstenbosch, and it was a wonderful trip indeed that was surely one of the highlights of my life.
In one of the photos a plant of Monardella macrantha can be seen. It has bright red flowers, odd for a genus of mostly lavender flowered plants. It is a rather rare plant from the mountains near San Diego, I believe, but is available from some alpine plant nurseries. It creeps along, and can be showier than what my photo reveals. I left it out this winter, it will be interesting to see if it makes it. If not I'll get another one, as it is rather unique.

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