Thursday, March 28, 2013

Manettia bicolor, 'Brazilian Firecracker'

Manettia bicolor ,'Brazilian Firecracker' (Family Rubiaceae)

There are not many climbers which are small and dainty enough to be planted safely amongst shrubs, used as a ground cover or placed in a hanging basket or decorative container and be continually in flower. This is one such plant and I was fortunate enough to be given a cutting of it a year ago. Though originating from South America and suited to warm climates it will tolerate a few degrees of frost and can be grown successfully on a windowsill indoors. The tubular flowers which are only about 20mm long, are a brilliant scarlet with vivid yellow flared lobes at their apex.
 For those who remember their childhood firecrackers, the flowers remind me a bit of 'Tom Thumbs'  which were about the same size and were attached to each other by a string so they went off in succession with quite a punch.
This plant is named for Italian botanist Savero Manetti (1723-1785) who spent time as supervisor of the Botanic Garden in Florence at a time when such gardens contained herbal plants or "simples", associated with herbalism or herbal medicine.

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