November 2012

Butia capitata

Jelly palm

Nativity:

Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina

Growth Habit:

This palm grows as a single trunk (here several were planted closely so appear to be from one plant), with arching grey leaves. Slow growing, but drought tolerant and hardy to 10 degrees F.

Growing Requirements:

Plant in full sun and water regularly to establish.

Features:

The silvery gray foliage is handsome and the bright yellow or orange fruits in fall are not only decorative, but edible and the juice can be made into jelly.

Where at Lotusland:

Fern garden, aloe garden, and near dracaenas.

November 2011

Nelumbo varieties

Lotus

Nativity:

Cultivated varieties

Growth Habit:

Lotuses are aquatic perennials. They grow from tubers under the soil in still or slow-moving fresh water at a depth of six inches to three feet (or more). The large leaves and flowers rise above the surface of the water during the summer months in most temperate regions, although in the tropics, they may grow nearly year round. After flowering, the seed pods remain to mature and drop their seeds.

Growing Requirements:

Soil depths should be a minimum of one foot and water depths can range from six inches to three feet. Full sun or at least six hours of sunlight a day will ensure vigorous growth and maximum flower production.

Features:

Lotus leaves are coated with a waxy layer that sheds water (search on “lotus effect”) and the flowers of the Asian lotus are shades of pink or white. The closely related American lotus flowers are pale yellow or cream-colored. The dry seed pods are also highly ornamental and used in floral arrangements.

Where at Lotusland:

In the water garden and the Japanese garden pond.

November 2010

Diospyros kaki ‘Hachiya’

Persimmon

Nativity:

China

Growth Habit:

Rough-barked deciduous tree with large, ovate leaves that turn brilliant shades of red and orange in fall.

Growing Requirements:

Persimmons require moderate winters (greater than 0° F) and do best in warm, but not extremely hot summers. To set fruit, they need only 100 hours of chill time.

Features:

Brilliant fall foliage and fruit. This cultivar is one of the astringent varieties that must be completely ripened to develop its sweetness. Other varieties can be eaten when crisp or allowed to soften.

Where at Lotusland:

In the deciduous orchard.

November 2009

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Strictus’

Porcupine Grass

Nativity:

Asia

Growth Habit:

Clumping grass that is dormant in winter.

Growing Requirements:

This grass is very drought tolerant, needing water only to establish. Occasional irrigation will, however, keep its green and cream variegation bright and the overall appearance of the plant more handsome.

Features:

Sturdy, upright grass stalks will form a clump from 5 to even 7 feet in height and diameter. The leaves are marked with vivid horizontal bands of cream. Tall, fluffy inflorescences are golden tan and persist at the end of the season.

November 2008

Aloe ramosissima

Maiden’s Quiver Tree

Nativity:

South Africa, Namibia

Growth Habit:

Single trunk producing many slender dichotomously-branched divisions.

Growing Requirements:

Aloe ramosissima is native to very dry habitats, where years may pass between rain events, and requires excellent drainage to thrive in wet winter areas such as Santa Barbara.

Features:

The clear yellow tubular flowers occur in dense inflorescences in late fall. Most aloes have orange to reddish flowers, so these are particularly striking.

Where at Lotusland:

In the aloe garden near the shell pond.

November 2008

Ginkgo biloba

Maidenhair tree

Nativity:

Southeast China

Growth Habit:

This deciduous tree can grow to 50 feet or more.  The species is dioecious, meaning that a tree is either male or female. Most trees sold today are propagated from known males as the females produce very smelly “fruits”.

Growing Requirements:

Ginkgos require consistent moisture and can grow in full sun to partial shade. They are remarkably unaffected by urban smog and have been widely planted in Asia as street and park trees.

Features:

The fan-shaped leaves are reminiscent of the maidenhair fern and turn a buttery yellow-gold in late fall. In Southern California, the deciduous period is short and the trees are clothed in new leaves in early spring.

Where at Lotusland:

There are several mature trees (one female!) in the Japanese garden. Another specimen has been pruned and trained in the niwaki style.

November 2007

Punica granatum

Pomegranate

Nativity:

Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran to the Himalayas in India

Growth Habit:

Large shrubs or small trees, pomegranates are deciduous species of the Lythraceae, the plant family that also includes crape myrtle and Cuphea.

Growing Requirements:

Pomegranates are drought tolerant and tolerate moderate frost (down to 14° F).

Features:

The seeds are covered with a brightly colored aril (usually red) that yields a tart juice. The juice is high in anti-oxidants and pomegranate juice products are enjoying an upsurge in popularity in the West. They have been cultivated for thousands of years in the Middle East and Mediterranean countries.

Where at Lotusland:

Forming a hedge at the entrance to the cactus garden flanking the hippocampus fountain.

November 2006

Hakea petiolaris

Sea Urchin Hakea

Nativity:

It is native to a small area in the southwest part of Western Australia.

Growth Habit:

A shrub or small tree growing to 20 feet tall. Flowers bloom in late fall – early winter.

Growing Requirements:

Grows best in sun with well-drained and preferably acidic soil. Drought-tolerant.

Features:

The common name refers to the flowers, which are arranged in round clusters of up to 200 pale pink flowers with long styles that resemble a sea urchin or pincushion. The flowers attract nectar-feeding birds. After the flowers are done, woody seed pods form which cling persistently along the branches. The leaves are oval, gray-green and come to a sharp point at the tip.

Where at Lotusland:

There are two Sea Urchin Hakeas in the Australian Garden, directly across from the Visitor Center.

November 2004

Dioscorea elephantipes

Elephant’s Foot

Nativity:

Southern Africa

Growth Habit:

Over time, the plant develops a caudex (a thick water-storing stem base) with vines up to six feet long growing from the top. It may go dormant, with the foliage dying off during the summer or during dry periods.

Growing Requirements:

Dioscorea is cold-sensitive and needs to be grown in a frost-free area or indoors. It can grow in full to partial sun, and needs well-drained soil with low watering, especially when dormant.

Features:

The caudex is divided by corky segments on the bark which make it resemble an elephant’s foot or a turtle shell. The flowers are very small and greenish-yellow.

Where at Lotusland:

There is one specimen of Elephant’s Foot at Lotusland, growing in the Succulent Garden.

November 2003

Zamia furfuracea

Cardboard Palm

Nativity:

Veracruz, Mexico

Growth Habit:

Forms a rosette of leaves 3-4 foot long tightly overlapping leaves.

Growing Requirements:

An easy to grow, adaptable cycad. Plant in well-drained soil with full sun to partial shade. Water when dry; will be drought-tolerant once established.

Features:

The light green soft new leaves are very attractive, especially in contrast to the darker green mature foliage which has a stiff “cardboard” texture. Z. furfuracea makes a striking accent plant in the landscape, or an attractive container plant either indoors or on a patio.

Where at Lotusland:

Lotusland’s Zamia furfuracea are planted in the Cycad Garden along with several other Zamia species.