Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Syzygium smithii (Lilly Pilly)

Syzygium smithii, also known as lilly pilly, is a multi-purpose tree with attractive foliage, showy flowers and edible fruit. New leafy growth is copper-colored...
and matures to lush, dark green.
The tree has a strongly upright growth habit, but can be maintained as a hedge if regularly pruned.
The trunk has reddish-tan, finely-grained bark. The reddish tint intensifies after a rain.

Flowering occurs in late spring to early summer. Blooms are pale, cream-colored puffballs that appear in clusters at the tips of the branches. Individual flowers are about 2-3 inches across.

The pink fruits ripen in mid to late summer. They are crunchy and watery, without much flavor, and slightly astringent. They can be made into jelly. Each marble-sized fruit contains a single large seed.

Syzygium smithii is native to Australia, where a wide variety of birds and mammals feed on the fruit. The tree reportedly can reach 60 feet or more with age and the mature wood is used for flooring, framing and wood-turning. Ornamental plantings can be pruned to shape and size. It grows in sun or shade, but best fruit production will be in sunnier locations.
Most references list this plant for USDA Zones 9-ll, with some claiming it does fine in 8B.
There are several cultivated varieties selected for plant size or leaf color.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Hedychium coccineum

Hedychium coccineum is one of the showiest species of ginger. Peak bloom occurs in early to mid-summer on the current year's growth, but a few blooms may appear in the late summer to fall months on late-emerging canes.

Each cane grows erect to a height of 6-7 feet and is topped by a spiky inflorescence. Each individual "spike" on the inflorescence produces several orange-red flowers, opening over a period of a few days. They are only faintly fragrant, but they do attract hummingbirds.

Even after the blossoms fade away, the inflorescence maintains a strong architectural appearance.

The canes are thick and sturdy, with a purplish-gray coloration when they first emerge.

Leaves are two-ranked and about a foot in length.

Hedychium coccineum is also known as orange gingerlily, scarlet gingerlily, and orange bottlebrush ginger. In addition, there are several named cultivars and hybrids that are commercially available. It is native to the eastern Himalayan region in Asia and grows in full sun to part shade. It is recommended for USDA Zones 7-10, being evergreen at the warm end of the range and grown as a deciduous perennial in colder zones.

In South Africa it's considered an invasive species due to its rapid spread by seed.