Monday, April 20, 2015

Mossy Rose-Galls

I had never heard of mossy rose galls (Diplolepis rosae) until reading about them in a novel by the great French writer Colette. In 'Chance Acquaintances' she cheers the ailing Antoinette Haume by placing 'these briar tumours' (Rosa canina) on her counterpane so that they might spread, as they dried, their delicate smell of pine and rose.'
Their folktale uses are interesting. Place under a pillow to induce sleep and my favourite, mix as ash with honey as a cure for baldness.
I don't think this gall insect is present in Australia but most would be familiar with galls which form on wattles /Acacia species
Photos are from Wikipedia.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Hibiscus in cooler weather

As the weather cools down Hibiscus flowers often change colour slightly and this 'Surfrider' is showing two tone orange/pink most noticable on the top petals which were probably exposed to more sun.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


 Paspalum dilatatum (Poaceae)
One of my treasured books is Pasture Legumes and Grasses which was published by The Bank of New South Wales in Sydney in June of 1961. It gives the botanical history of this South American native grass which was introduced into Australia in the 1890's by German Australian botanist Baron Sir Ferdinand Jacob Heinrich von Mueller (1825-1896). This "tough as" pasture grass 'provided a foundation for the dairying industries' of both New South Wales and Queensland and of course eventually made its way into the suburban backyards of coastal cities and towns. By mid-twentieth century mischievous boys had learnt that if you tied the flower stalks together you could easily trip up a few of your opponents in a backyard game of footy or cricket.
Present day applications for its use could include as a 'scratch proof' ground cover for chicken pen/'ranch' and it is probably goat grazing proof as well.
The only down side to that suggestion is that the developing flower heads and seed can be affected by ergot fungus which, by reputation, can lead those who have ingested it to imagine they have entered the world of an Heironymus Bosch painting.

Meanwhile, my lawn, which consists of at least 45% Paspalum, needs mowing; having been neglected of late through my involvement with the Collectors' Plant Fair in Sydney.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Collectors' Plant Fair 2015

 April is the best month for #Hibiscus so I will be bringing a good selection along to sell at the Collectors' Plant Fair next weekend April 11-12. Hope to see you all there. For details follow link below.
Collectors' Plant Fair

Sunday, February 1, 2015

#FKA Hibiscus species

 Jacob Peter Storck (1836-1893)
Botanist and Nurseryman
Berthold Carl Seemann (1825-1871)
Botanist and Plant Hunter 
'Formerly known as' or 'name unresolved' applies to two interesting Hibiscus species which have an Australian connection and they are Hibiscus storckii and Hibiscus denisonii.
In 1859, German born Jacob Storck was working at the Botanic Gardens in Sydney where he met fellow German Berthold Seemann. The following year, on April 20th they set sail for Fiji on a plant hunting expedition where they discovered a pink flowered Hibiscus growing in the wild. Seemann named it Hibiscus storckii for his companion. Following this initial discovery it was never sighted again but later a Hibiscus which matched the description was found in Sydney and was named Hibiscus denisonii after Sir William Thomas Denison (1804-1871) who was a Governor of New South Wales from 1855-1861. Are they one of the same and where can I get my hands on one.? In the meantime they have been lumped together as just forms of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis.
The video below is an interesting retelling of some adventurous 19th Century garden and plant history.