Saturday, April 25, 2015

Going Pro(teaceae)

It happened before I quite realized it:  Proteaceae are appearing on the hot, dry slopes in my garden in places not already occupied by an Agave or Aloe.  It's a Trend!
Leucospermum:
Proteaceae confused me at first, because some are from Australia (Grevillea, Adenanthos, Banksia), and some are from South Africa (Protea, Leucospernum, Leucadendron), two places separated by some six thousand miles (10,000+ km).  
Leucadendron 'Pisa':
 Once upon a time there was a super-continent named Gondwana, and Proteaceae were clustered together on an area of Gondwana land where the soil was, honestly, rather terrible.  Then Gondwana split, and drifted 6,000 miles apart, like a Hollywood power couple, and so did the Proteaceae.  This happened about ninety million years ago, about the time Mitch McConnell was elected to the US Senate and Jerry Brown first became Governor of California.
Leucadendron linearfolia  
As a result, today some gardeners (me) are unclear about which Proteaceae are from South Africa, and which are from Australia, and Proteaceae have a sensitivity to phosphorus, because they evolved to be ruthless in extracting every bit of soil phosphorus they can get their greedy little cluster roots on--that horrible Gondwana soil they grew up on lacked phosphorus.  
Leucadendron salignum 'Blush' (South Africa):
Leucadendron salignum 'Blush' photo Leuc9262_zpsc6518d67.jpg 
Grevillea 'Moonlight' (Australia):
Grevillea 'Moonlight' photo grevillea4008_zps2affc7b8.jpg
Another point of confusion for many (me) is that Leuc-thing.  There are Leucospermums and Leucadendrons.  Leucospermums have the fancy flowers.  Leucadendrons have the fabulous foliage. 
Leucadendron 'Ebony':

Fancy Leucospermum flower:
 photo pro4581_zps2ac3424f.jpg

Grevilleas and Banksias are easier to keep separate.  Grevilleas with their weirdly wonderful flowers are the ones the hummingbirds love, while Banksias with their wonderfully weird flowers are the ones--uh--the hummingbirds love. 
Grevillea:
Grevillea photo a-26-3104_zps2049a2e8.jpg
Banksia
Banksia with hummingbird photo thur4425.jpg
Protea 'Pink Ice', a new baby, on sale.  7'x6' eventually if it likes the spot I gave it. 


This post is really just to clarify for myself a recent interest in Proteaceae.  Why am I reluctant to fully embrace California native plants?  If something like 'Pink Ice' was a California native, I would certainly grow it.  It has nothing to do with where it is from.  I don't grow roses because they are from Europe/China, or Ceanothus because it is native.  I grow them because I like them.  My tastes wander around over time, but so do continents.  
 Leucadendron 'Little Bit':
And while I have never been there, am not being compensated for this, don't know anyone there, and don't know anything about it, I'm told the Australian Plant Nursery in Casitas Springs near Ventura is having a sale this weekend, April 25-26th. See their website for more information, if you are looking to go Pro yourself. 

14 comments:

  1. I too love proteaceae, and always mix up leucadendron and leucospermum (and leptospermum, but that's different of course). You have SO many beauties!

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    1. Yes, Leptospermum/Leuca/Leuco confusion here also. And Leucophyllum, and now Calocephalus has become Leucophyta, none of which are Proteaceae, but I'm still confused.

      I was enthralled by your Eucalyptus kruseana, and now want to add a Mallee. So many beauties, so little time.

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  2. I thought it was just me who had trouble keeping them all straight (where they're from and the lepto/leuca/leuco business. Thank you. And ask always, you've got some beauties!

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    1. This blog is mostly me trying to explain things to myself in a way even I can understand.

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  3. I've become fixated on Australian plants, along with plants from South Africa and New Zealand. You have a wonderful collection - I can only hope my Leucospermum will do as well as yours. Have you looked at any Hakea? I saw one on Amy's blog (H. laurina, I think) that I'd seen at the Australian Native Plants Nursery in Casitas Springs and now regret having left behind. Unfortunately, I haven't seen any representatives of that genus in the nurseries/garden centers in LA or OC.

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    1. There are a couple Hakea planted in the neighborhood. They are quite nice, though they are not of a particularly showy species, more of a screening plant. I hope I can get to that Australian nursery someday. And maybe even Australia.

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  4. With their potential drought tolerance and nice looking association with succulents it just makes sense :)

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    1. They look great with the Agaves, Aloes, etc. and prevent the succulent portion garden from looking stark.

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  5. I like the way you think! "It's my garden and I'll do what I want too...." you know the tune! I love these Proteaceae. But I have mineral rich clay and 50+ inches of rain. Happy spring!

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    1. 50 inches of rain. I'm trying to imagine what that is like. I don't think I can--except it must certainly make for a very happy spring indeed!

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  6. Sadly, because I love them so, I will never be able to go Pro, at least in the Portland area. I do see a few Grevilleas and even the occasional Banksia in a special garden, and local nurseries like Cistus and Xera are busy trying to propagate extended range proteacea. But we can't yet grow (outdoors, in the garden) almost any of the Leucadendron and Leucospermum. Yours just knock me out!

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    1. Well, with climate change, you will be able to sooner than you think. 8^0
      Glad you enjoyed the post.

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  7. I get the SoAfrica/Aus origin confused all the time. And I love anything having to do with super continents, so thanks!

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  8. This was fascinating and very funny. :)

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