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01 May 2018

Amaryllis (Amaryllidaceae)

The name derives from that of a shepherdess from Greek and Latin poetry. It is a genus that includes only one true species, although the name is commonly and improperly used for Hippeastrum and their many hybrids. The only species is A. belladonna : Brunsvigia rosea, Callicore rosea), from southern Africa, bulbous plant at rest in summer, with large flowering stem, crowned with fragrant pink flowers similar to lilies, which appears at the end of summer before the green and ribbon-like leaves they persist during the winter until the beginning of the summer. The plant is rustic in our climates, requires soil permeable without organic materials that can decompose causing rottenness, position in the sun. The bulbs, which can be left undisturbed in the soil for some years, will form colonies of bulbs that can be divided from the main bulb and replanted at the beginning of summer during the rest period.

Amaryllis (Amaryllidaceae)
Amaryllis (Amaryllidaceae) The fragrant pink lily-like flowers of Amaryllis

Read also: Amaryllis (Amaryllidaceae)

27 Apr 2018

Alstroemeria (Amaryllidaceae)

Name given in honor of Baron Clas Alstroemer, Swedish botanist and friend of Linnaeus. The genus includes tuberose of South America, especially Chile and Peru, rustic, which require the only shelter in case of strong frost. Very useful for the garden, have leaves of various shapes, erect flowering stems that bring flowers of various colors, long enough and can also be used cut.

Alstroemeria aurantiaca. Numerous horticultural varieties of this kind are very decorative for the garden; in them the color of the perigonium segments can take on the most diverse nuances.
Alstroemeria aurantiaca. Numerous horticultural varieties of this kind are very decorative for the garden; in them the color of the perigonium segments can take on the most diverse nuances.

Cultivated species of Alstroemeria:

A. aurantiaca, with orange flowers often streaked with red, var. lutea, yellow; Alstroemeria brasiliensis, one of the most rustic, with yellow and red flowers stained in brown; Alstroemeria chilensis, with red or pink flowers; Alstroemeria ligtu, with lilac or pink flowers streaked in violet; Alstroemeria pelegrina, with individual flowers, lilac streaked in violet, has a var. white, delicate and excellent for cold greenhouse; A. violacea, with large flowers of a brilliant lilac color. Many hybrids and cultivars have been taken from all these and other species.

Cultivation:

the height of all species varies from 70 cm to one meter and makes them particularly suitable for borders and flowery crops; they are very sensitive to transplants and to any damage to the roots, therefore, if they are grown in pots, the utmost caution is necessary for placing them in a dwelling, to avoid damage to the ground bread and consequently to the root system. The same care must be taken in multiplication by the division of the tufts. The soil required must be humid, of vegetable origin; for these plants, the preferable position is the sun or sun in the cooler climates. Reproduction is by seed in autumn, under glass, with fresh seed, since it has no long germination period; the planting must be done with clod and without trying to divide the young plants.


Read also: Alpinia (Zingiberaceae)

18 Mar 2018

Agave (Amaryllidaceae)

The name derives from the Greek agauós «splendid, admirable». These are succulent plants of the hot and dry American regions, originating for most of Mexico and the southern states of the U.S.A. ; many species have however naturalized in other areas with a similar climate, including the Mediterranean area. The genus includes herbaceous and arborescent forms, some of economic importance, among which Agave sisalana which produces the fiber called sisal, very strong and resister. All have fleshy leaves, more or long, coriaceous and ensiform, always arranged in rosettes mostly acaulas, although some species become caulescent with aging; almost all have thorns arranged in various ways on the leaves (marginal or apical) and only some are unarmed. The inflorescence consists of a large spike, usually erect, which can reach 10 meters and which bears small flowers usually greenish-red and in some species also bulbous plants; these form small plants that, falling, root to the ground. In many species, the central rosette dies after flowering and seed production, but almost all emit suckers that, by rooting, give rise to new plants.

Sculptural silhouette of the marginal American Agave.
Sculptural silhouette of the marginal American Agave.

Cultivated species of Agave: 

Agave americana, spontaneized in Italy, constitutes, together with the prickly pear, a characteristic of the Mediterranean landscape. It is often confused with Aloe; in this regard, just remember that the new leaves of the. American, springs in the center of the rosette are always born rolled up on themselves and stretch out while growing, while the central leaf of the Aloe is born with the same shape that then will keep increasing only in size. Once it was believed that the plant only flourished after a century of life, in reality, the flowering occurs after about 10 years. The var. are marginata, the most common, with the edges of white or yellowish-white leaves; medium-picta with the large yellowish longitudinal band. A. angustifolia of the West Indies, with leaves of about 50 cm in length and only 8 cm in width; produces many suckers and there is a marginal shape with white edges; A. attenuated, one of the very few unarmed, with an aging stem reaching one meter in height, with an arched inflorescence that can produce bulbs; A. filifera, rosette of narrow leaves, bright green, with white lines along the margins that split into long loose threads; A. horrida, leaves up to m 2, wide, dark-green, with robust curved marginal spines both outwards and inside the leaf and long apical spine. It does not emit suckers; Agave parvaffiora, with a dwarf rosette and compact green leaves with white lines crossed towards the tip and the margins frayed in white filaments; A. victoriae-reginae, low and slow growing, with greenish leaves carenated crossed longitudinally and irregularly by white lines converging towards the apex, and with short but hard brown apical spine.

Cultivation:

very porous and sandy soil, sunny position, minimum temperature for the most delicate species of about 7 ° C; rustic species resist much lower temperatures.Cultivated in pots require scarce watering throughout the year, except in winter when they must be almost completely suspended. Multiplication is usually done for suckers who are rooted in the sand; it can be reproduced, where necessary, by seed, but growth is slow and there is always the danger of obtaining different varieties and the variegated types reproduced from seed will normally turn color reversal, losing the mottling.

Since ancient times, the Mexicans have extracted from the Agave atrovirens, by fermentation, a wine called “pulque”. This custom is so old that the Aztecs even had a god presiding over it; his name was Tepalcatzin which literally meant “mirror covered with straw” to indicate the sight blurred by drunkenness; but the effects of the “pulque” had to be even worse, if the god’s secondary names meant “the hanger” or fog-maker. “