Chocolate Cosmos

Chocolate cosmos is a delicacy for the eyes.

  • Chocolate cosmos are a species of perennial flowering plant, that originated in Mexico.
  • ‘Chocolate cosmos’ is also known as ‘black cosmos’ and was once known as ‘black biden’.
  • The scientific name of chocolate cosmos is Cosmos atrosanguineus, formerly Bidens atrosanguineus, and it is from the family Asteraceae, the family of daisies.
  • Chocolate cosmos generally grow to be around 40 to 75 centimetres (1.3 to 2.5 feet) in height.
  • Chocolate cosmos are believed to be extinct in the wild, while many specimens today are clones of a non-fertile specimen, so those will not produce fertile seed.
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A Chocolate Cosmos
Image courtesy of Amanda Slater/Flickr
  • The blooms of chocolate cosmos plants are a deep brown to maroon colour, and they have a fragrance reminiscent of chocolate.
  • Chocolate cosmos grow best in sunny or mostly sunny conditions, and the plants grow from tubers that enable them to be divided.
  • Chocolate cosmos plants prefer warm climates if they are to be grown all year round, and they typically bloom during summer months and into early autumn.
  • Seed merchant, William Thompson from Ipswich in England, was the first known person to cultivate a chocolate cosmos plant, doing so in 1835, and the plant was described by English botanist, Joseph Hooker, shortly after, who obtained a specimen from Thompson.
  • Chocolate cosmos are commonly grown in gardens for decorative purposes or as cut flowers.
Bibliography:
Cosmos, 2016, Pacific Bulb Society, http://pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/Cosmos
Cosmos atrosanguineus, 2016, Heritage Perennials, http://www.perennials.com/plants/cosmos-atrosanguineus.html
Cosmos atrosanguineus, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmos_atrosanguineus
Schneider A, Caring for Chocolate Cosmos Plants: Growing Chocolate Cosmos Flowers, 2016, Gardening Know How, http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/flowers/cosmos/growing-chocolate-cosmos.htm

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Flame Lily

If you have a burning passion for someone, give them a flame lily.

  • A flame lily is a species of perennial flower, native to a variety of habitats of south Asia, and south to south-eastern Africa.
  • Flame lilies’ are also known as ‘creeping lilies’, ‘fire lilies’, ‘climbing lilies’, ‘glory lilies’, ‘tiger claws’ and ‘gloriosa lilies’.
  • The scientific name of the flame lily is Gloriosa superba and it is from the family Colchicaceae, a family of plants that flower.
  • As flame lily plants tend to be climbers, they grow upwards or along the ground to 4 metres (13 feet) in length, while the flowers have a diameter of 4.5 to 7 centimetres (1.8 to 2.8 inches).
  • Typically, flame lily flowers are predominantly red or orange, transitioning into a yellow colour towards the centre, and they flower in summer and autumn.
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Flame Lily
Image courtesy of Miltos Gikas/Flickr
  • The consumption of any part of flame lily plants can be fatal, with symptoms including numbness, vomiting, dizziness and breathing difficulties, and it is also toxic for most animals.
  • Flame lilies are considered an invasive weed in many countries outside of their native region, including Australia, a number of Pacific Islands and parts of the United States.
  • Flame lilies has been used in traditional medicine to treat cuts, worms, snakebites, skin issues and other health conditions.
  • By creating both seeds and having rhizomes that multiply, flame lilies are efficient at reproducing, and spreading.
  • Flame lilies grow best in partial shade, and they are commonly grown as cut flowers or for other ornamental purposes.
Bibliography:
Gloriosa Superba, 2016, Queensland Government Weeds of Australia, http://keyserver.lucidcentral.org/weeds/data/media/Html/gloriosa_superba.htm
Gloriosa Superba, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gloriosa_superba
Gloriosa Superba (Flame Lily), n.d, Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/plants-fungi/gloriosa-superba-flame-lily
Gloya Lily (Gloriosa Superba), 2014, NSW Department of Primary Industries, http://weeds.dpi.nsw.gov.au/Weeds/Details/62

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Common Sunflower

You’ll need some shades if you visit a field of common sunflowers.

  • Common sunflowers are a species of annual flower, popularly cultivated for agricultural purposes, and are native to parts of the North American countries of Mexico, the United States, and Canada.
  • The scientific name of the common sunflower is Helianthus annuus and it is from the family Asteraceae, the family of daisies; and there are a large number of cultivars, these varying greatly in height and flower colour and size.
  • Common sunflowers flowers generally have yellow petals, although orange and red tones are available, surrounding a brown central disc, and the flowers are usually a diameter of 10 to 50 centimetres (4 to 20 inches) and bloom during autumn and summer months.
  • Contrary to popular belief, common sunflower flower heads do not continually change direction to face towards the sun, rather, they face east, though the flower buds do turn with the sun.
  • Common sunflowers, also known simply as ‘sunflowers’, grow best in full sun, and they grow to heights between 0.5 to 5 metres (1.6 to 16.4 feet), depending on the variety.
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Common Sunflower
Image courtesy of Stig Nygaard/Flickr
  • Seeds and oil can be extracted from common sunflowers, which are edible by both humans and livestock, and the oil is often used in cooking and in margarine, cosmetics, soap and paint.
  • Common sunflowers were introduced to Europe for food purposes in the 1500s by Spanish explorers, and this eventually spread to mass cultivation of the plants in Russia, Caucasus and Ukraine by the 1800s.
  • The central disc of a common sunflower features a spiral pattern that can be mathematically defined using a formula that is part of the Fibonacci sequence.
  • Common sunflowers are sometimes grown in domestic gardens for ornamental purposes; and they can be used to decontaminate soil and water from poisonous or otherwise harmful chemicals.
  • Common sunflower petals have been used by native Americans to create a yellow dye, and the seeds to produce a black or blue dye.
Bibliography:
Helianthus annus, 2016, Wildflower Center, http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=HEAN3
Helianthus annus, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helianthus_annuus
Helianthus annus, n.d, Missouri Botanical Garden, http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=a583
Helianthus annus (sunflower), n.d, Kew Royal Botanic Garden, http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/plants-fungi/helianthus-annuus-sunflower

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Queen of the Night

You won’t want to miss the Queen of the Night.

  • Queen of the Night is a species of tropical flowering cactus native to forests in Mexico in southern North America; and the plant can also be found further south in Central and South America.
  • The ‘Queen of the Night’ is also known as ‘Dutchman’s pipe cactus’, ‘fragrant orchid cactus’, ‘lady of the night’, and ‘night blooming cereus’, though the latter term can refer to a number of different plant species.
  • The scientific name of the Queen of the Night is Epiphyllum oxypetalum and it is from the family Cactaceae, the family of cacti.
  • Queen of the Nights typically have large white coloured flowers that are usually 12 to 17 centimetres (5 to 7 inches) in diameter, that bloom in summer.
  • Each flower of the Queen of the Night usually opens during the evening, and will typically last until dawn, after which it is spent, though it can produce many flowers over a season.
Queen of the Night, Flower, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Vegetation, White, Bloom, Epiphyllum Oxypetalum, OpenQueen of the Night
Image courtesy of Maciej Szczepaniak
  • Queen of the Nights appear to have green ‘leaves’, but rather they are flattened stems that can grow quite long, with a plant height of 2 to 3 metres (6.6 to 9.8 feet).
  • For optimal growing and flowering conditions, Queen of the Night plants are best grown in a spot where they catch the morning sun and are shaded in the afternoon.
  • The flowers of Queen of the Night plants have a strong, sweet-smelling fragrance, and the flowers can be picked at night and brought inside to enjoy their perfume.
  • Queen of the Night plants are commonly grown ornamentally, and they can be manipulated to climb, or can be grown in hanging baskets.
  • New plants of Queen of the Night are easily propagated from cuttings that can be taken from the stem, and planted in soil.
Bibliography:
Dutchman’s Pipe Cactus, Night Blooming Cereus, 2016, Dave’s Garden, http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/2443/#b
Epiphyllum oxypetalum, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epiphyllum_oxypetalum
Epiphyllum Oxypetalum – Fragrant Night Blooming Orchid Cactus, 2013, Easy to Grow Bulbs, http://www.easytogrowbulbs.com/p-2113-epiphyllum-oxypetalum-fragrant-night-blooming-orchid-cactus.aspx
Night-blooming Cereus, Queen of the Night, Dutchman’s Pipe Cactus (Epiphyllum oxypetalum), n.d, Growing Guides, http://growingguides.com/PlantGuides/Nightblomingcereus.pdf
Ross L, Queen of the Night, a Very Special Kind of Orchid Cactus, 2015, Garden Clinic, http://www.gardenclinic.com.au/how-to-grow-article/queen-of-the-night

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Cucumber Tree

Don’t bother searching for any traditional cucumbers on a cucumber tree.

  • Cucumber trees are a species of tree native exclusively to Yemen’s Socotra, an island off the coast of the Middle East.
  • The scientific name of the cucumber tree is Dendrosicyos socotronus, although it also known as Dendrosicyos socotrana, and it is from the family Cucurbitaceae, the family of gourds and curcurbits.
  • Isaac Bayley Balfour, a Scottish botanist, was the first to scientifically classify the cucumber tree, doing so in 1882.
  • Cucumber trees bloom small tubular flowers that are approximately 3 centimetres (1.2 inches) in diameter, and are a yellow to orange colour.
  • The small green leaves of a cucumber tree are edged with spines that reduce in sharpness as they age and the leaves usually reach a diameter of 4 to 8 centimetres (1.6 to 3.1 inches); while the trunk is a mostly white to light grey colour and can reach 1 metre (3.3 feet) or more in diameter.
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A Cucumber Tree
Image courtesy of Stefan Geens/Flickr
  • Cucumber trees grow to be 3 to 6 metres (10 to 20 feet) in height and have a large trunk compared to the small canopy.
  • The cucumber tree is the only species in the Cucurbitaceae family that is a tree, as most others are vines; and the plant can only be propagated by seed.
  • Cucumber trees have fleshy fruit that are somewhat ovoid with pointy ends; and they are an orange-red colour, with similar coloured flesh, when ripe.
  • The trunk of a cucumber tree stores water, rendering it a relatively drought resistant plant; and the plant has been used as a traditional medicine by native locals, to treat a variety of illnesses.
  • Cucumber trees are considered a vulnerable species, threatened primarily for their overuse in supplying feed for livestock during periods of drought.
Bibliography:
Dendrosicyos, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dendrosicyos
Dendrosicyos socotranus, n.d, Bihrmann, http://www.bihrmann.com/caudiciforms/subs/den-soc-sub.asp
 Dendrosicyos socotrana, n.d, California State University, Fullerton, http://biology.fullerton.edu/facilities/greenhouse/Stories_out_of_School/dendrosicyos.html
 Dendrosicyos socotrana, n.d, Succulent Gardening, http://www.succulents.us/dendrosicyossoc.html
Miller A, Dendrosicyos socotrana, 2004, The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/33691/0
Socotra Cucumber Tree (Dendrosicyos socotrana): Isolated Isle’s Weird Fantastic Vulnerable Tree, 2014, Wizzley, https://wizzley.com/socotra-cucumber-tree-dendrosicyos-socotrana/

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Sacred Lotus

The sacred lotus will spice up your aquatic garden.

  • Sacred lotuses are an aquatic species of perennial plant, native mostly to tropical and warm temperate climates of Asia and north to north-eastern Australia, and while they have a similar appearance to water lilies, they are unrelated.
  • The ‘sacred lotus’ is also known simply as ‘lotus’, as well as ‘sacred water lotus’, ‘Indian lotus’, ‘sacred water lily’, ‘rose of India’, ‘lotus lily’, ‘pink lotus lily’, ‘pink water lily’, and ‘bean of India’.
  • The scientific name of the sacred lotus is Nelumbo nucifera and it is from the family Nelumbonaceae, the family of lotuses, and it is one of two living species in the family.
  • The sausage-like tubers of sacred lotuses grow from seeds deposited at the muddy bottom of bodies of water, and they grow stems of leaves, 1 to 2.5 metres (3.3 to 8.2 feet) in height to reach the surface of the water, and the diameter of the leaves ranges from 20 to 70 centimetres (8 to 27.6 inches).
  • The flower head of the sacred lotus sits above the water and is 15 to 25 centimetres (6 to 10 inches) in diameter, and can be coloured pink, to white sometimes with a reddish tint, and they have a sweet scent.

Sacred Lotus, Plants, Vegetation, Flower, Pink, Trivia, Random Facts, Water, Aquatic

  • Seeds of sacred lotuses grow in a receptacle that is originally the centre of the flower head, while the head turns downwards as the seeds mature; and seeds of ancient specimens have been known to be still usable centuries later, while one seed, estimated to be almost 1300 years old at the time, was germinated in 1994.
  • Sacred lotuses are considered symbolic in a number of religions including Buddhism and Hinduism, and are said to represent creation, purity, incarnation, and beauty, among other things.
  • Much of the sacred lotus plant, including the flowers, is edible, with the tubers being able to be used like a vegetable by boiling, frying, baking, and steaming them; while the seeds and leaves can be eaten both raw and cooked; and the leaves can also be used as a food wrapper.
  • The sacred lotus is a fundamental plant in traditional Asian medicine with all parts of the plant being utilised; and a wide variety of illnesses are treated with the plant, including nausea, fever, diarrhoea, and mushroom poisoning.
  • The temperature of sacred lotus flowers will remain at a constant 30°C to 35°C (86°F to 95°F), even despite changes in the temperature around them; while the leaves are extremely water repellent and as such are self-cleaning, with this phenomena being described as the ‘lotus effect’.
Bibliography:
Nelumbo Nucifera, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelumbo_nucifera
Nelumbo Nucifera (Sacred Lotus), n.d, KEW Royal Botanic Gardens, http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/plants-fungi/nelumbo-nucifera-sacred-lotus
Nelumbo Nucifera – Gaertn., 2012, Plants For A Future, http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Nelumbo+nucifera
Stanley T, Nelumbo nucifera, 2007, Flora of Australia Online, http://www.anbg.gov.au/abrs/online-resources/flora/stddisplay.xsql?pnid=40576
Tan R, Lotus, 2001, Naturia, http://www.naturia.per.sg/buloh/plants/lotus.htm

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