Thursday, January 14, 2010

3 Michelia

Michelia champaca,Yellow Orchid Tree

Michelia alba, White Orchid Tree

Michelia figo, Port Wine Magnolia

Michelia are in the Magnolia family and are native to the southern parts of China through to India but are widely grown in gardens throughout the warmer regions of the world. Though their flowers are often inconspicuous and small, they are intensely perfumed especially during the heat of the day. The fragrance is unique in that it resembles overripe Bananas and has an almost chemical note to it, something like acetone. In Hong Kong the flowers were once sold by street hawkers to use as hair adornments or for the making of garlands and Temple offerings.This perhaps accounts for them being grown in the local Nan Tien Temple garden . Both M champaca and M alba grow into large well shaped trees with pale green leaves and a pyramid/conical form. In the Temple garden they have been grown in a small grove and underplanted with Gardenias, a combination which gives a double hit of sweet perfume and makes you want to linger to enjoy the scent.
Michelia figo is an excellent garden or container plant as it forms a dense rounded shrub to about 5 metres making it ideal to use as a screen or hedge.The leaves are small and glossy and the small purple streaked yellow flowers, which are produced in great abundance, are often hidden behind the closely packed leaves. Cultivars with larger more conspicuous flowers have become available with names such as 'Coco' and 'Bubbles'. It is a reliable shrub to grow in areas where winter sun fails to reach such as between buildings but requires a reasonably rich moist soil for good growth. Insect pests such as scale and mealy bug will often attack water stressed plants and low nutrient soils will give the leaves a yellow appearance and often sparse growth. It will tolerate a light frost.
2017 update: I don't have any stock of these available.

1 comment:

  1. i have never seen a michelia figo, thanks for pointing that out, i need to be on the lookout for a new tree :)

    aaaah yes the scents are heavenly