Our recent visit to the LA Arboretum included wandering slowly through one of my favorite areas, the Madagascar spiny forest. In Madagascar, the plants of the spiny forest areas are severely endangered by the impoverished human population, who burn the plants for fuel, and clear the native plants to grow corn.
To give you an example of "impoverished", at a talk given by Aloe expert Kelly Griffin, he mentioned a trip he took to Madagascar with another plant expert, who started the trip with very well-worn hiking boots. A little too worn. Kelly advised him to go with a better pair of boots. His companion said, "Oh, I'll buy some there if I have to." On arrival in Madagascar and soon after their hikes into rough and rocky country, a new pair of hiking boots was needed. The man discovered he couldn't buy hiking boots in Madagascar. He couldn't buy shoes in rural Madagascar--because there were not any for sale. Kelly said to his companion, "Look around at the people here. Do you see anyone wearing shoes?" Indeed no one was wearing shoes--no one could afford shoes. The man finally was able to find the only pair of shoes for sale--a pair of women's pink plastic bedroom slippers that did not quite fit, which he wore on their rocky hikes as best he could.
But to Arcadia. We've enjoyed watching the Madagascar area develop over the past several years. It occurred to me wandering that path that a Southern California resident could create their own fantastical garden composed entirely of endangered Madagascar plant species with little difficulty. So many are available here, even at big-box stores.
The Madagascar Garden entrance:
Two palms are well-represented. One is Bismarkia noblis, native to open grasslands in western and northern Madagascar. (The metal thingy was part of a sculpture exhibition):
There was one beginning to flower:
I believe this tree in the center is a Moringa, possibly M. drouhardii:
The Arboretum has recently been able to add several specimens of the rare Aloe suzannae. Aloe suzannae is a solitary rosette that blooms only occasionally--not every year. (See a suzannae blooming in Denmark(!) here.) Thus availability is limited, and the Aloe is in severe danger of extinction in the wild.
Behind the Aloe suzannae are two flowering plants often found in any big-box store, Euphorbia milli (red flowers), and Catharanthus roseus (pink), an annual bedding plant sold as "Vinca" or "Madagascar periwinkle".
In the next photo, the bright yellow flowers belong to Uncarina grandidieri. According to a garden sign, people in Madagascar use the seed pods as mouse traps. The lushness, even of a xeric thorn forest, can be seen beyond--quite amazing plants.Another palm, this one found in rainier southern Madagascar, Dypsis decaryi:
In the foreground is another Madagascar Aloe, Aloe vaombe. A Pachypodium to the Aloe's upper right:
Aloe vaombe, stately. To its lower left, little pink-flowered Kalanchoe pumila.
Many Alluaudia procera specimens, these in bloom:
At the feet of these exotic small trees are Euphorbias and Kalanchoes, including K. beharensis, K. pumila with its pink flowers, and K. tomentosa, all now frequently seen at big box stores.
A mass of Kalanchoe:
The garden is a well-crafted tribute to Madagascar's endangered plants, and it is satisfying to see it continue to grow and mature.
Excellent article about the garden here; thanks to alert reader Nell. Thanks, Nell!
As we left, one of the Arboretum's peacocks gave us a goodbye show.