Tuesday, December 8, 2009

An odd pair

Well, maybe not so odd in that they are both South African, one being Crocosmia aurea, the other the Pelargonium x hortorum cultivar "Mr Wren". The crocosmia is from the forests of eastern South Africa, though I believe it does range further up into east Africa along the mountain ranges that start with the Drakensberg and border the Great Rift northwards. Its nodding orange flowers are a stunning sight, and the black seeds are displayed from three sided bright orange seedpods that split when ripe. It grows from corms that spread via runners terminating in more corms, and seems quite hardy in this area, though it is also easily maintained in a large pot if kept dry and cool in winter. Seed is easy to start and plants flower in their second year.
Pelargonium X hortorum has a complex history, but basically traces its orgin to two species from South Africa, P. inquinans and P. zonale. "Mr Wren" is a sport from an unknown cultivar which apparently is a chimera, that is it contains two different cell types, one of which makes the white edge on the petals, the other is the red part. This means the plant can be propagated from cuttings to retain the picotee flower pattern, but it cannot be used to breed new picotee patterns, since only one of the cell lines (the red one, most likely) will be represented in the progeny sired by it. This past summer was not a great one for zonal pelargonium flowering, as it was too often cloudy and rainy.

No comments: