Saturday, 6 July 2013

A plant in our gardens

I am trying to work out how to defeat the weird advertisements now appearing on my computer. No thank you, Mr Advertiser, I do not want to have sex with Asian women. Not today, not any day. Mr Advertiser seems to have altered a couple of my posts as well. Nor do I want words appearing in blue colour and with underlining. Irritating. Cheap thrills for a cheap mind.

Cat's tail acalypha
On a brighter note though I thought you might like to learn a little about a plant that is common in local gardens here.

Many gardeners in my area grow what we call cat's tail acalypha. The scientific name is Acalypha hispida and it belongs to the Euphorbia family. There are other varieties of acalypha that grow well here too. They all like regular water and droop easily in dry windy weather. This particular acalypha originates in the tropical dry forests of Papua New Guinea, but is now found in most of the Pacific region where the climate is suitable. Most gardeners grow these plants from cuttings and I do not recall ever seeing seeds.

Cat's tail acalypha is quite showy with dark green leaves, toothed at the edge, and long hairy flowers. It is the female part of the flower, the stigma, that is the red bit. The flowers are long strands and look rather like chenille. Usually they are about 15 centimetres long, but often shorter. They may be pollinated by the wind or by insects. I have tried putting this plant in a vase inside, but it was totally hopeless and became a droopy sad mess never to recover.

How tall does it grow? Maybe two metres, but this plant can be a bit leggy so we pinch the tips to encourage a bushy growth. The old stems become woody and need to be removed every couple of years. It will grow in full sun, but appreciates some shade during the day and will be much better for it.  I have heard of it being grown indoors but somehow I doubt it is worth the effort as it likes so much light.

This plant is completely ornamental and I have read that every part of it is poisonous to animals. I doubt that, as the aphids and mealy bugs absolutely love it as do grasshoppers.

This plant does not have a dormant period during winter. We have no winter.

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