Monday, 8 December 2008

Jasminum polyanthum

Jasminum polyanthum Franch.
Revue Horticole 1891: 270, f. 69. 1891.

First discovered in 1883 by Père Jean Marie David, a French missionary and noted botaniser, it was introduced to cultivation by George Forrest in 1906, but had limited circulation. In 1930 Forrest, collecting with Lawrence Johnston, brought down two mule loads (nearly 300 lbs) of "good clean seed" from the mountains of Yunnan. Among the 4-500 different species contained within these loads was this Jasmine, which Johnston sent to his French Riviera home, La Serre de la Madonne. Plants were then distributed from this garden to the horticultural elite, and Jasminum polyanthum became a cherished feature of warmer gardens (see The Garden at Hidcote by Fred Whitsey and Tony Lord). In 1938 Major Warre brought a cutting back to England from his garden at Villa Roquebrune. It was illustrated in the Botanical Magazine (CLXI) of that same year (Hortus Revisted by David Wheeler). Later Vita Sackville West grew it in an "unheated lean-to" at Sissinghurst. By 1952 it could be bought for 5s. 6d.

Today it is grown as an immensely popular winter-flowering pot plant . The distinctive pink tones to the flowers require cool nights. Very often, when grown in subtropical climates, the flowers are pure white. This Jasmine has a far-wafting scent; surprisingly some noses find it unpleasant. It grows at Monserrate on the Causeway Pergola, often trailing into the adjacent Cinnamomum, making for a spicy nasal cocktail.

Often spelt Jasminum polyanthemum in horticultural trade.
Jasminum blinii H. Lév.
Flora of China Editorial Committee, 1996. Fl. China Vol. 15.
Jasminum delafieldii H. Lév.
Flora of China Editorial Committee, 1996. Fl. China Vol. 15.

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