Sparmannia africana – African Hemp

The garden is still relatively floriferous with plenty of buds optimistic that they will have their moment of glory.  Lurking on the horizon, and fast approaching every day, is the threat of a cold snap.  There are several plants in the garden that I have been hoping will flower before the first frosts put an end to any hope.  What seems to happen is that each hard winter progressively delays the growth of some of the tender plants which naturally means that by the time they have worked up enough energy to flower, bam! harsh weather knocks them back again.  This Sparmannia africana was given to us as a large specimen last autumn by the Rodgersia Queen.  It spent the winter in the borderline shelter of the greenhouse and was planted out in the spring.  It has large attractive leaves (with irritant hairs) but once again it is for the flowers we are anxiously waiting.  I was pleased to hear that RQ had first seen this plant in Abbey Gardens on Tresco flowering in October which would suggest an autumn flowerer in this country.   They can reach 3m in the ideal conditions and the statuesque mother of this plant flowers under cover for winter months on end.   Although I haven’t tried (but will be in the morning) allegedly if you brush the golden stamen after a couple of seconds they will move away from the stigma.  This is thought to be an aid to pollination as it presses pollen onto marauding insects.  It come from Africa and Madagascar and is of course tender and another needy child.



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2 responses to “Sparmannia africana – African Hemp

  1. Rodgersia Queen

    Heavenly Gill has turned me into a geek!!
    A long-time admirer of Sparmannia africana’s flowers, I didn’t know about this fascinating detail of it’s sex life. Thank goodness there were no garden visitors yesterday afternoon because they would have found me with face very close to the beautiful, intriguing individual flowers, carefully touching all those that were fully open.
    She’s right (of course), they DO move & that leads on to the detailed construction of the stamens & stigma under a lens…………..

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