Read about Craig
Always on the lookout for something different, Craig
introduces . . .
Three Unusual and Interesting
New Marginal Plants
by Craig Presnell
Zolfo Springs, Florida USA
Click images to enlarge
Acanthus ebracteatus (Holly Mangrove, Jeruju hitam)
is an unusual plant with dark green spiny leaves that, at first
glance, bear a remarkable resemblance to American Holly (Ilex
A tropical species originating in southeast Asia, this plant
reaches a height of about 1.5 m (4.5') and forms dense thickets.
Like a mangrove, it develops prop roots, but those of Acanthus
are small. It will grow equally well in full sun or shade, but
the leaves of shaded plants are flat, rather than ruffled, and
they do not develop the sharp spines of those grown in the full
sun. White flowers are borne in spikes and produce pods with
spring dehiscence and are capable of propelling the seed distances
up to 2 m (6') when ripe.
It is tropical, so winter protection is necessary in zones colder
than USDA 10-11. Planted around the perimeter of a water garden,
it is sure to provide a painful deterrent to pilfering or damage
by rogue animals.
Crinum oliganthum is a dwarf Crinum from
the West Indies. While mature leaves are generally less than
3 cm (7") long, this plant spreads by runners and will form
clumps up to 1 m (36") wide. It will grow in full sun, but
is also useful as a ground cover under taller plants.
Perhaps the best feature of this plant is the disproportionately
large fragrant flower it produces. The six petalled white flower
that is a miniature of that seen on C. americanum can
be 5 cm (2").
Despite its Caribbean origin, C. oliganthum is hardy to
USDA zone 8b. It thrives in constantly moist conditions, but
is also extremely drought tolerant. C. oliganthum can
be a versatile addition as an accent in a water garden or a main
player in a container garden.
Gunnera perpensa (River Pumpkin) is a dwarf Gunnera
from tropical east Africa. The leaves of River Pumpkin . . .
and Im assuming the name comes from the leaf shape . .
. may only grow to a height of 0.5 m (18"), but forms a
beautiful cluster from a creeping rhizome that looks quite a
bit like a Petasites. It is a vigorous grower but not
invasive. Flowers are borne on a spike that extends above the
leaves that has female flowers at the base, bisexual flowers
mid-spike and male flowers at the top.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this plant is that there
is finally a Gunnera that is heat tolerant and can survive
in a much broader area of the US than the cool, moist conditions
required by the South American Gunnera now offered. Even
though it is heat tolerant, to survive it requires heavy shade
and constant moisture. It did survive last years summer
temperatures in Florida without heroic efforts and is hardy to
USDA zone 8 without protection