Friday, 26 December 2008

Organ Mountains

The Organ Mountains "that rich storehouse of vegetable beauties." As described in volume XVI of Curtis's Botanical Magazine. In 1843 this periodical descibed a number of plants lately introduced from these coastal forests.

3973 Siphocampylus betulaefolius (Lobeliaceae). Introduced by Mr Gardner, originally discovered by Sello. Flowered 1842.
3976 Echites splendens (Apocynaceae). Introduced by Lobb to the nurseryman Veitch at Mount Radford, Exeter in 1841.
3977 Rondeletia Longiflora (Rubiacaceae). Another Veitch introduction. Flowered 1842.
3990 Begonia coccinea (Begoniaceae). Lobb, collecting for the Veitch Exotic Nursery in 1841. Flowered 1842.
3992 Ilex Paraguayensis - Maté or Paraguay Tea. Grown at Monserrate. Native of Paraguay but extending north to Organ Mountains.
3995 Gesneria polyantha (Gesneriaceae). Veitch by Lobb. Flowered 1842. Also Gardner, nº 467.
3997 Echites hirsuta (Apocynaceae) Veich by Lobb.
3999 Fuchsia alpestris (Onagraceae). Collected by Gardner and sent by him to Murray at the Glasgow Botanic Garden. 1841.
4007 Pleroma benthianum (Melastomaceae). Gardener. Flowered in 1842 at the Glasgow Botanic Garden. [Looks like a Tibouchina]
4009 Passiflora actinia
4015 Siphocampylos longepedunculatus (Lobeliaceae). Introduced by Gardner; coll. nº 465. Originally discovered by Pohl - see his figure in Plants of Brazil. Flowered 1823 (?).
4047 Hypocyrta strigillosa (Gesneriaceae). Veitch/Lobb. Collected from Organ Mountains, but, found throughout Tropical Brazil.
George Gardner was the sometime superintendent of the Royal Botanic Gardens of Ceylon. His travels in Brazil are described in his book Travels in the Interior of Brazil, principally through the Northern Provinces and the Gold and Diamond Districts during the years 1836-1841. Curiously he quotes from Byron's Childe Harold as his epigram:

Canto the Third

A populous solitude of bees and birds,
 And fairy-formed and many coloured things,
........... the gush of springs, 
And fall of lofty fountains, and the bend 
Of stirring branches, and the bud which brings 
The swiftest thought of beauty, here extend,
Mingling, and made by Love, unto one mighty end.

William Lobb spent 1841 exploring the Serra dos Órgãos (Organ Mountains) to the north-east of the port where he discovered several orchids including the swan orchid, Cycnoches pentadactylon, as well as Begonia coccinea and Passiflora actinia. His first shipment of discoveries, which arrived at Topsham dock (Devon) in March 1841, also included a new species of alstroemeria, an oncidium, O. curtum (with yellow flowers and cinnamon-brown markings), and a new red salvia. There were also several species of the beautiful pink flowered climber mandevilla, including M. splendens, which would become highly sought after for cultivation in England, and the small shrub Hindsia violacea, with its clusters of ultramarine flowers, which quickly became popular in Victorian greenhouses. The next shipment arrived at Topsham in May but had been delayed at Rio de Janiero and, as a result, many of the plants failed to survive the journey, arriving dead or "vegetated".

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