What's in Bloom?
Common name: dancing lady ginger
Location: Potted Plants Gallery, north wall
Native to: Thailand
Globba winitii is commonly known as the dancing lady ginger because of the yellow flowers that dangle and dance in the wind. This dance is likely performed to attract the plant’s pollinators. The mauve petal-like structures are called bracts. Bracts are modified leaves that protect the flowers as they emerge and may also attract pollinators by providing a colorful backdrop for the flowers. A greatly elongated, arched stamen contains the plant’s pollen. Notice that the flowers are symmetrical when divided in half, much like a face or an orchid flower.
Globbas are a member of the ginger family. Like all gingers, they grow from creeping rhizomes that form clumps underground.
Globbas are native to Thailand where the long-lasting flowers are used in bouquets and as offerings to Buddha.
Common name: croton
Location in Conservatory: Potted Plants Gallery
Native to: southern India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the western Pacific Ocean islands
Croton is an evergreen shrub with often colorful shiny evergreen. They grow in forests in their native habitat, but in the US they are common house plants. This cultivar has unusual pale yellow curled leaves.
Codiaeum are in the Euphorbiaceae family. The sap is toxic and can cause skin irritation. It is also toxic if eaten, though in small quantities, it has been used in herbal medicine to treat gastric ulcers.
Location in Conservatory: hanging in the Lowlands and Aquatics Galleries
Native to: damp forests of Central and South America
The Stanhopea orchid's complex and fragrant flowers are spectacular and short-lived. Their pendant inflorescences are noted for flowering out of the bottom of the containers in which they grow. Most Stanhopea flowers last three days or less, so the blooms must attract pollinators very quickly. Chemical attractants attract the male euglossine bees to the flower. When the bee touches down on the flower, it slides on the waxy surface and glides down on the slippery lip to exit the flower. The long column is touched in the process, resulting in the bee taking up the pollinia (sticky pollen sac typical of orchids) at the very tip of the column. When the bee slides down another flower, the pollinia is deposited on the sticky surface of the stigma.
Location: Aquatics Gallery
The Vanda orchid has some of the most magnificent flowers in the orchid family. The genus is made up of warm-growing plants with colorful flowers. Growers have hybridized the Vanda in efforts to get a flower that’s the biggest, showiest, and most colorful. The blue and purple species are the best known Vandas, but there are a wide range of other colors, which makes for striking hybrid combinations that are popular in the floral trade.
Vandas have monopodial growth habit, which means they grow vertically and reach incredible heights. Their height is compounded when a new stem forms from the end of a spent flower spike, and leaves and flowers are then produced along the new stem. Succulent leaves store the nutrients and moisture required for the new growth.
Many Vanda orchids are endangered and vulnerable due to habitat destruction so the export of wild-collected specimens of Vandas is prohibited worldwide.
Location in Conservatory: Potted Plants Gallery
Native to: Brazil
Hippeastrum is a genus in the family Amaryllidaceae with 70-75 species and 600 hybrids and cultivars. The genus is native to tropical regions of the Caribbean, Mexico and South America. Hippeastrum reticulatum grows in wet sandy soils in Southern Brazil and usually needs a month-long dormancy during winter and blooms in the fall.
For many years there was confusion among botanists over the generic names Amaryllis and Hippeastrum, The common name "amaryllis" is mainly used for the indoor flowering bulbs sold in the winter. The generic name Amaryllis applies to bulbs from South Africa, usually grown outdoors. They are commonly called "naked ladies".
Common name: parrot Impatiens, candy corn Impatiens
Location in Conservatory: Highlands and Potted Plants Galleries
Native to: East Africa
Impatiens niamniamensis is an evergreen, perennial species that usually grows 2 to 3 feet tall. The unusual flowers bloom all year and dangle off the branches like little tropical birds.
An interesting adaptation of this plant is its method of seed distribution. The scientific name Impatiens is Latin for "impatient" and refers to the plant's seed capsules. When the capsules mature, they explode when touched, sending seeds several yards away.
Common name: cotton
Location in Conservatory: Aquatics Gallery on the upper pond wall
Native to: Central America
Gossypium hirsutum is the most widely planted species of cotton in the United States.
After a flower withers it leaves a pod which is called a cotton "boll". The boll is actually a fruit that contains small seeds surrounded by white fibers. As the boll ripens, it turns brown. The fibers expand, the boll splits, and cotton is exposed. The fiber is stripped from the seed by ginning and the lint is then processed into cotton.
Cotton plants have a variety of other uses. Seeds yield a semi-drying and edible oil used in shortening, margarine, salad and cooking oils, and for protective coverings. Cottonseed meal is protein rich and is fed to livestock.
Common name: golden dragon Impatiens
Location in Conservatory: Highlands Gallery on rocks in center planting on south side
Native to: Originating from the rainforests of Sri Lanka, this species is now believed to be extinct in its native habitat.
Bright red stems and dark green leaves provide a perfect backdrop to the large yellow flowers on this rare perennial species, which cascades down the rocks in the gallery.
Location in Conservatory: Aquatics Gallery near door from Highlands
Native to: Caribbean, Central and South America
This striking pink Plumeria represents the variety of ways different cultures view the same plant species. In the Pacific Islands, Plumeria flowers are used for making leis and for many westerners the plant evokes thoughts of tropical vacations and Hawaiian beaches. In Sri Lankan tradition, Plumeria is associated with worship. In the Philippines and Indonesia, Plumeria are often associated with ghosts and graveyards and are planted on cemetery grounds.
Plumeria is related to the oleander and both possess an irritant similar to that of Euphorbia. Contact with the sap may irritate the eyes and skin.
Plumeria flowers are most fragrant at night in order to lure sphinx moths to pollinate them. The flowers have no nectar, and simply dupe their pollinators. The moths inadvertently pollinate them by transferring pollen from flower to flower in their fruitless search for nectar.
Common name: bat flower
Location in Conservatory: Potted Plants Gallery, in a pot near the fountain
Native to: tropical Asia
Tacca chantrieri is a species of flowering plant in the yam family Dioscoreaceae. Its wing-like bracts are a deep purple and have the appearance of bat wings. The purpose of the bracts are to protect the flowers while they mature. As the bracts open they reveal about a dozen flowers on pendulant stems.
The bracts also reveal long filiform bracteoles which look like whiskers. The purpose of the bracteoles is undetermined. It's possible they are attractive to pollinators, however, this is still under debate. Tacca chantrieri are effective self-pollinators, and in one study, researchers removed the bracteoles from half the plants in the study and found the pollination rate was the same as the plants with bracteoles.