Saturday, July 2, 2011

Golden lotus banana is blooming!

While the golden lotus banana (Musella lasiocarpa) doesn’t produce edible fruit, it is very cold-hardy and produces what I think are among the most beautiful leaves on any large-leaf tropical.

In an earlier post I showed photos of the winter damage to our specimen and how it was starting to come back. In the three months since that post, it has positively exploded. The pups (offsets) surrounding the mother plant have been sending up leaf after leaf so the clump now takes up twice as much room as it did last year, making for a lush focal point in that corner of our front yard.

But the most exciting development is that the mother plant has started to flower. Check this blog post for a detailed description of the process. Unlike the plant in that post, ours looks much more lush because the central trunk is surrounded by a good two dozen pups in full leaf.

Here are some photos showing the development of the mother plant in the last month:

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June 9, 2011
The two largest leaves on the central trunk are beginning to lower into a horizontal position. That was the first indication that something was up.
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June 9, 2011
Instead of regular leaves (typically new leaves are larger than the ones before), the central trunk is producing short stubby leaves as the top of the trunk is beginning to swell.
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June 11, 2011
More swelling in the center.
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June 22, 2011
The flower structure is beginning to take shape.
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June 25, 2011
First hint of color on the bracts.
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June 28, 2011
Now you can clearly see the flowers amidst the bracts.
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July 1, 2011
More bracts are peeling off the “artichoke” in the center.
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July 1, 2011
Flowers

According to Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the lotus-like inflorescence lasts up to 250 days. At some point after flowering the mother plant will die, leaving the pups to carry on. I don’t really know if the trunk will simply rot away—that’s another one of those exciting discoveries gardeners like us get to make on a regular basis—but I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

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June 28, 2011
Entire clump with flowering “artichoke”
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June 28, 2011
Looking at this photo, it’s easy to see why Musella lasiocarpa is revered as a sacred plant by Buddhist monks in Southern China.

1 comment:

  1. Certainly worth the wait! The flower does last for a long time :)

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