Friday, 15 January 2010

Agapetes pulcherrima

Thibaudia pulcherrima
Curtis's Botanical Magazine,
Plate 4303 (Volume 73, 1847).

Rarely have I been more surprised and delighted with any plant than with the flowering specimen of this Thibaudia (Agapetes, Don), kindly sent from the Exeter Nursery by Messrs. Lucombe, Pince and Co. Imagine a branch four feet and a half long, dividing only at the top in from 4-6 rather short leafy ramuli: the leaves evergreen, 6-8 inches long; the old, long, and woody portion of the stem throwing out, on one side (unilateral), numerous, crowded clusters, or drooping sessile umbels, of from twelve to twenty blossoms in each umbel, and in all states of progress, from the early buds, when they, as well as the pedicels, are scarlet variegated with pale but bright green, to the fully expanded corollas, an inch long, narrowly campanulate, of an ochraceous red, veined and chequered (something like the flower of Fritillaria Meleagris) with deeper and brighter lines of red. The inner structure of the flower, too, is very curious, the stamens forming a close column around the style, and the anther-tubes of very great length, as shown by our figure and description. The plant is a native of the north of India, and Dr. Wallich, on my showing him the blossoms and a leaf, recognized it as a native of the district of Khasiya, and to which he had given the name of Th. pulcherrima, a name it well deserves. I find among some of Dr. Griffith's Vaccinieae in my possession, what I believe to be the same species, also gathered at Khasiya: but owing to the absence of corollas some doubt must still remain. It is quite different from any Indian species of Thibaudia (or Agapetes) yet described. " Planted against one of the walls of our Camellia House (which in winter is frequently within a degree of the freezing point) " observe Messrs. Lucombe and Pince, " in a border composed of peat, loam, and sand, which being very well drained admits of copious waterings during the growing or summer season, it thrives remarkably well, making vigorous shoots from three to four feet long in a year. The copious flowers appear on the two year old wood, and first began to develope themselves at Christmas, expanding early in April, and they still continue to expand, many at a time, in succession. It must then be considered a hardy Greenhouse plant, and I consider the best way to cultivate it, is to plant it out in the border of a Conservatory, where it will soon become a noble and interesting object."
Agapetes pulcherrima ( Wall. ex Hook. ) Hook.f.
Gen. Pl. [Bentham & Hooker f.] 2(2): 571. 1876
Grown at Monserrate in 1861

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