Saturday, February 23, 2008

Chirita drakei

Gesnariad is a group of plant that i don't grow. It is just too herbaceous and soft. Well there are interesting exceptions like Sinningia cardinalis with soft wooly felt covered leaves rising from a large tuber. It has a nice rosette of leaves, and i wish it is as compact as in Echeveria. But nevertheless, it has some xeric characteristics... thick succulent leaves protected by short silvery white hairs which attracted me. This interesting Chirita is found on expose limestone karst in Halong Bay area, Vietnam. There is a watercolor plate in Wild Plants of Ha Long Bay which suggests C. drakei. The inflorescence is kind of unique, with a pair of large basal leaf bracts. It is described as spring flowering and will appreciate cooler temps for good flowering. Unfortunately, the buds aborted possibly due to high temperatures here on the seasonless equator. The plant will eventually lean over to form a woody cascading bush with multiple rosette of silvery green leaves. It should make a good uncommon bonsai subject. Currently with only a primary stem, i'm trying to propagate by rooting leaf cuttings.

There appears to be several species like C. linearifolia (S. China), C. balansae (N Vietnam) with a similar vegetative form and limestone karst habitat. Let's hope that my C. linearifolia survives domestic UK mail and another trip via airmail

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