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Photos, musings, and flashes of brilliance from the staff at The Ruth Bancroft Garden

Nerine is a delightful genus of bulbs in the Amaryllis Family, native to South Africa and its neighbors. Some are strict winter growers, remaining leafless over the summer months, but Nerine bowdenii - pictured here - is from eastern South Africa and keeps its leaves in summer. The curled-back petals are typical of the genus.

-Brian

Butia capitata, sometimes called the Jelly Palm, is an example of a palm with edible fruit. It comes from southern Brasil, Uruguay and northern Argentina. This photo shows the orange fallen fruit at the base of the palm, and a sprout from one of last year’s fruits is visible at the lower right. We feature this tree on our fruit-tasting tour each October, along with various prickly-pears and other cacti. The tour will take place this year on Oct. 18; contact the Ruth Bancroft Garden for more information (info@ruthbancroftgarden.org).
-Brian

Butia capitata, sometimes called the Jelly Palm, is an example of a palm with edible fruit. It comes from southern Brasil, Uruguay and northern Argentina. This photo shows the orange fallen fruit at the base of the palm, and a sprout from one of last year’s fruits is visible at the lower right. We feature this tree on our fruit-tasting tour each October, along with various prickly-pears and other cacti. The tour will take place this year on Oct. 18; contact the Ruth Bancroft Garden for more information (info@ruthbancroftgarden.org).

-Brian

I have made quite a few Agave hybrids over the years; this one is A. parrasana x colorata. Its mother (A. parrasana) is more artichoke-like in appearance, while the leaves of A. colorata splay more widely, and the hybrid is in-between. Both parents tend to make a few offsets, but not many, so I expect this one to follow suit.
-Brian

I have made quite a few Agave hybrids over the years; this one is A. parrasana x colorata. Its mother (A. parrasana) is more artichoke-like in appearance, while the leaves of A. colorata splay more widely, and the hybrid is in-between. Both parents tend to make a few offsets, but not many, so I expect this one to follow suit.

-Brian

Salvia pachyphylla is a California native which I think is greatly under-utilized. It is very drought-tolerant, has attractive gray-felted leaves, and beautiful flowers over a long season. The color of the bracts and flowers varies somewhat, but this plant with its purple bracts and blue flowers is stunning!
-Brian

Salvia pachyphylla is a California native which I think is greatly under-utilized. It is very drought-tolerant, has attractive gray-felted leaves, and beautiful flowers over a long season. The color of the bracts and flowers varies somewhat, but this plant with its purple bracts and blue flowers is stunning!

-Brian

The vivid flowers of Aloe reitzii are like burning coals. This species is closely related to Aloe gerstneri, but it has longer flowers which are more brightly colored.
-Brian

The vivid flowers of Aloe reitzii are like burning coals. This species is closely related to Aloe gerstneri, but it has longer flowers which are more brightly colored.

-Brian

There are fewer Aloe species which flower in autumn, but happily there are some which do. This one is Aloe reitzii, from northeastern South Africa.
-Brian

There are fewer Aloe species which flower in autumn, but happily there are some which do. This one is Aloe reitzii, from northeastern South Africa.

-Brian

Stapeliads are unusual succulents in the Milkweed Family (Asclepiadaceae), with 5-pointed flowers that are reminiscent of little starfish. They often have interesting markings on the petals, but this one - Huernia primulina - does not have any. From South Africa.
-Brian

Stapeliads are unusual succulents in the Milkweed Family (Asclepiadaceae), with 5-pointed flowers that are reminiscent of little starfish. They often have interesting markings on the petals, but this one - Huernia primulina - does not have any. From South Africa.

-Brian

Mammillaria flowers are mostly on the small side, typically emerging in a ring around the growing tip, but they are wonderful nonetheless. This one is Mammillaria polythele, from eastern Mexico.
-Brian

Mammillaria flowers are mostly on the small side, typically emerging in a ring around the growing tip, but they are wonderful nonetheless. This one is Mammillaria polythele, from eastern Mexico.

-Brian

We had an extended cold spell last December, resulting in branch die-back on our Ceiba speciosa tree (a synonym is Chorisia speciosa). Happily, this did not prevent it from bursting into flower in September. We greatly value this tree for its profuse production of large showy pink flowers in autumn, when few other trees are putting on a display. It used to be put in the Bombacaceae, but this whole family has been moved into an expanded concept of the Malvaceae, along with the hibiscus and its relatives.
-Brian

We had an extended cold spell last December, resulting in branch die-back on our Ceiba speciosa tree (a synonym is Chorisia speciosa). Happily, this did not prevent it from bursting into flower in September. We greatly value this tree for its profuse production of large showy pink flowers in autumn, when few other trees are putting on a display. It used to be put in the Bombacaceae, but this whole family has been moved into an expanded concept of the Malvaceae, along with the hibiscus and its relatives.

-Brian

Many Agave species have sharp teeth along the leaf margins, but some kinds get carried away and look downright carnivorous… This one is Agave horrida, from just south of Mexico City.
-Brian

Many Agave species have sharp teeth along the leaf margins, but some kinds get carried away and look downright carnivorous… This one is Agave horrida, from just south of Mexico City.

-Brian