Blooming Marvel as 60-year-old plant finally flowers
At the age of 60, this grand old lady of the botanical world has flowered for the first time, much to the delight of staff at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE).
The Doryanthes palmeri, also known as the giant spear lily, has been growing relatively unnoticed in the Garden’s Victorian Temperate Palm House since it was received as a seed from Adelaide Botanic Garden in 1957.
Now, after six decades its 16ft flower spike, or scape, is covered in buds which one-by-one are bursting into bloom, providing a vivid red/orange burst of colour during one of the coldest spells of winter weather on record.
In its native eastern Australia, the Aboriginal people have been known to eat the immature flower shoots after roasting them on a fire. There is also anecdotal evidence of Australian birds falling drunk from the sky after feasting on fermented nectar in the flowers.
Describing the flowering, Horticulturist Simon Allan, explained: “I first noticed the developing flower scape in July last year. A week or so earlier, the plant had had a particularly heavy watering.
“Over the course of the next few weeks the scape attained its current height and the buds began to grow. When the light levels changed from about October, the plant slowed down and the development paused. At this point the top of the scape was resting against the glass, as it was growing towards the light. I carefully moved it so it now rests against the inside wall of the Palm House.
Simon added: “From early January the buds again began to swell, and the first flower opened on 23 February. The buds are still developing along the length of the scape, so the flowering event will be gradual - hard to say how long it will last but I would imagine four to six week so there is plenty time for people to come along and see it.’’
After flowering the plant will die, however it should produce bulbs amongst the roots, or an offshoot which will grow into a new rosette.
Doryanthes palmeri is a large monocot thought to be name after Sir Arthur Palmer, Premier of Queensland
For further information or images please contact Sandra Donnelly on 0131 248 1037/07554115908 or Shauna Hay on 0131 248 2900/07824529028
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is a leading international research organisation delivering knowledge, education and plant conservation action around the world. In Scotland its four Gardens at Edinburgh, Benmore, Logan and Dawyck attract nearly a million visitors each year. It operates as a Non Departmental Public Body established under the National Heritage (Scotland) Act 1985, principally funded by the Scottish Government. It is also a registered charity, managed by a Board of Trustees appointed by Ministers. Its mission is “To explore, conserve and explain the world of plants for a better future”.
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