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11 Jul 2018

Acanthus (Acanthaceae)

The name derives from the Greek òkanthos «acanthus». The genus includes elegant rustic perennials, known since the time of the Greeks and Romans, who, in architecture, used the shape of the leaves for the Corinthian capital, more precisely for two varieties of it: the Greek that used the leaf of the Acanthus spinosus, originally from Greece and italic, in which the A.’s leaf was represented. monis. All the Acanthus form large clumps of long, upright and erect leaves, among which the inflorescences emerge from the labiati flowers, emerging from often thorny bracts; the roots are strong, fleshy and firmly clinging to the ground.

The elegant stylized leaves of the Acanthus
The elegant stylized leaves of the Acanthus

Cultivated species of Acanthus:

Acanthus longifolius (cm 90 – m 1,20), with violet flowers, blooms in June; A. monis, the best known, unarmed, with violet-pink flowers and long leaves up to 60 cm, goes to rest after the summer bloom and grows again in autumn; A. spinosus, with deeply lacerated thorny leaves, purple, green and white flowers in July and August.


excellent as an isolated specimen, it can also be planted in groups, particularly along old walls or in the shade of trees. The foliage of the young plants is less lacinated and toothed than in adults and so is also that coming from young plants root cuttings. It needs rich, well-drained soil and half-shade, except in particularly cool locations. It can be reproduced by seed in spring or multiply by root cutting in winter and spring and by division in autumn or spring.

09 Jul 2018

Acalypha (Euphorbiaceae)

The name derives from the Greek akalefe given by Hippocrates to the Nettle. The genus includes tropical evergreen plants that, with due precaution, can also be used in the apartment and, in the summer, in the open air; the greatest difficulty encountered in their cultivation in an apartment is the need to keep them well ventilated, without the temperature dipping below 15 ° C. All can reach a good height and lignify. In the wild they are perennial, but in cultivation, they are usually multiplied annually by cuttings because the young plants are more attractive.

the long red inflorescences of the Acalypha
The long red inflorescences of the Acalypha

Cultivated species of Acalypha:

Acalypha hispida (sin sanderi), from India, the only species that is cultivated for its flowers, consisting of long, red-alive pendulous inflorescences that are born at the axis of the obovate, green and pubescent leaves. There are a variety with pinkish white inflorescences and hybrids with Acalypha godseffiana which have yellow inflorescences and variegated leaves; none of these species or varieties bears the sun, even though it requires great luminosity; Acalypha godseffiana, originally from New Guinea, has leaves margined in creamy yellow; Acalypha wilkesiana, from Polynesia, and his var. musaica have mottled leaves in red, orange and pink; all have inconspicuous inflorescences, require strong brightness and in places with a rather humid climate they also bear the full sun.


the cuttings taken at the end of the winter will coalesce with a temperature of about 20 ° C in a humid atmosphere, if necessary under glass. The soil for repotting (when they have well rooted) can be formed of fibrous earth, earth of leaves, peat, and sand; care should be taken to keep it fresh and humid without excess water which may suffocate the roots, especially after flowering.

The Acanthus, already known by the Greeks and Romans for the particular shape of its leaves, was used by them in architecture as a model for the decorations of the Corinthian capital. The idea of representing the columns in the form of fuze with a leafy crowning, dates back to the ancient Egyptians, who created the lentiform, papyriform and palmform capitals.

Also read: Acacia (Leguminosae).

07 Jul 2018

Acacia (Leguminosae)

The name derives from the Greek akakía «acacia». This common name is erroneously applied to Robinia (see), as well as the Acaia is called Mimosa, which, in botany, is another genus of the same family; A. farnesiana is also called gaggia. It is a genus composed of about 500 species of shrubs or small flowering trees, of which those cultivated for ornamentation are mostly Australian, while part of the African ones have a certain economic importance because they exude a resin from which the arabic gum is extracted. Of varying height and posture, they also have variety characteristics in the foliage: many species have bipinnate leaves, while most Australian species have petioles enlarged to form leaf laminae (phyllodes). The flowers are yellow, formed by globular flower heads that appear feathery because of the numerous colored stamens and can be isolated or grouped in long and pendulous racemes. The seeds are contained in pods as in all Leguminosae.

Acacia Clair de lune mistakenly called Mimosa
Acacia Clair de lune mistakenly called Mimosa

Cultivated species Acacia:

A. bayleyana (m 4,50-6), gray-green foliage, compound leaves (up to 20 pairs of leaflets), longer racemes of leaves with showy golden-yellow flowers, blooms since January in mild climate; A. decurrens variety dealbata (m 15), rustic, arborescent, pale or silver-gray leaves formed by 30-40 pairs of leaflets, long pale-yellow racemes also with 30 flowers; many varieties and hybrids have been derived, including A. hanburyana; A. howittii known as “clair de lune” due to the pale yellow of its flowers; A. longifolia floribunda variety, a shrub that bears the foliage mainly at the tip of the branches, linear phyllodes (about 6 cm), acuminates, yellow-live flowers in small spikes and blooms in spring; A. melanoxylon, of considerable development, which with its strong roots helps to curb sandy soils and is also used for its wood; Acacia poda-lyriifolia (about 4 m), shrub with ovate and pubescent fillias and simple racemes but with numerous flower heads, which blooms in winter; A. retinodes, a small tree with lanceolate phyllodes, racemes composed of more than 30 lemon-yellow flowers, which blooms all year round and, since it bears the calcareous soil, is often used as a rootstock for more delicate species; Acacia saligna bears more than the others the salty winds and the proximity of the sea; it is also present in Italy.


acid and very permeable soil, sunny position, sheltered from the wind, minimum temperatures of 7-13 °C, lower for short periods. Pruning is carried out after flowering or directly, cutting off the flowering branches, at the end of winter or spring, trying to contain the plants in the desired height and shape. They reproduce by seed in spring or multiply by semi-hard wood cuttings at the beginning of the summer in multiplication tanks; the grafts are also performed at the beginning of the summer, almost always on A. retinodes, sometimes on A. longifolia.

05 Jul 2018

Abutilon (Malvaceae)

The name comes from the Arabic abutilun, a species of mallow. Semi-rustic shrubs to be cultivated in greenhouses, in cold-climate countries or, except for the most delicate, outdoors where the climate is mild. The flowering of some species is summer and autumnal, of others it lasts practically all the year. The flowers, variously colored, are mostly pendulous, with 5 petals and a more or less long goblet; the leaves of various shapes, often lobed, in some species are variegated.

A variety of Abutilon with beautiful red bell flowers
A variety of Abutilon with beautiful red bell flowers

Cultivated species: most of the cultivated plants are hybrids, derived mainly from A. darwinii (orange veined red flowers), A. striatum and A. venosum. Remarkable is the thompsonii variety of A. striatum, with orange-salmon flowers and yellow marbled leaves and A. «Savitzii», low and with very variegated white leaves in an irregular way, suitable for growing in pots. A. megapotamicum, which comes from Brazil, is an evergreen that can grow up to 2.50 m in the open ground; from its arched branches hang the flowers from the long red goblet, the yellow petals and the brown anthers; the variegated shape is more delicate and, grown in pot, reaches only 50 cm in height. Abutilon vitifolium has blue flowers, reaches 3-7 m in height and there is a var. album with pure white flowers.

Cultivation Abutilon:

the A. would require a minimum temperature of 7-10 ° C, but if repaired, they can withstand even lower temperatures. The soil must be rich but made well permeable with the addition of sand. For the cultivation of the pot it is advisable to use sandy soil and earth of leaves. They reproduce by seed in spring, or multiply by cuttings; this is advisable when you want to keep a certain variety, and it becomes absolutely necessary when it comes to variegated varieties. The cuttings, taken in first-vera, will easily root in a box with sandy soil, or in a humid environment at a temperature of 18 ° C.

03 Jul 2018

Abies (Pinaceae) Abete

The name derives from the Latin abire «to leave, to leave», ie to rise from the ground, with reference to the great height that can be reached by some species. They are all evergreen trees, of considerable size, and have the characteristic of having erect thrills. As ornamental species, they are usually planted individually, but they are widely used, at least in the case of white fir, in reforestation. In the common language, the genus Abete is confused with the genus Picea, and the species belonging to the two groups are usually referred to as Spruce.


Cultivated species:

Spruce alba (sin pectinata) or silver fir, is the most important spruce in Italy, where it is fairly common in the Alps, mostly mixed with beech, often also with spruce. It is also present in the Apennines, where it once was much more common. Today, in its natural state, it is only found in some limited areas, very distant from each other, as on Mount Amiata, in Molise, on the Massif del Pollino, in Lucania, where the establishment of a National Park is planned, also to protect this important species, and to Serra S. Bruno, in Calabria. It lives in the mountains in cool areas and particularly in the beech environment. Another Italian A., very similar to the previous one, is the Abete nebrodensis which, as the name clearly indicates, is a Sicilian species, where it lives precisely in the Nebrodi Mountains. Still widespread and constituting dense forests at the time of the ancient Romans, as a result of climatic variations, but above all grazing, fires and reckless cuts, it has almost disappeared. Among the species cultivated foreign to the Italian indigenous flora, the only one that has a certain practical importance is the A. cephalonica, originally from Greece. Of smaller dimensions of the. white, it grows well on calcareous soils, where instead the other species grows stubbornly. It also adapts better to warmer areas and is less demanding in terms of humidity.

Cultivation Abete:

All members of the genus Abete prefer fresh, fertile, forest soils and do not tolerate clay soils. The best medium for the propagation of these species is the seed. It will be good to collect the strobili in the late autumn, which will then be kept in a well-ventilated environment. At the beginning of spring, the cones break down, after which the seeds are extracted and sown as soon as possible in the seedbed. It will be good, then, to transplant the seedlings, as soon as they are sufficiently developed, in their final location. Even when they are bought, the seeds are put into seedbeds as soon as possible. In general, pruning is not necessary for cultivated plants, which is sometimes desirable in forest plants.