Thursday, January 14, 2010

It's a Jungle in Here!

Late yesterday afternoon I noticed a sweet fragrance wafting through the house. Following my nose, I was led to a plant in the corner of our dining room and was surprised to see it blooming! Copious clear viscous nectar was dripping from clusters of small white flowers. The plant is an eight foot tall Dragon Tree, Draceana fragrans, also known as a Corn Plant since the leaves look sort of like corn leaves. They are loosely related to lilies, but are in their own plant family, the Draceanaceae. This species native to West Africa, Tanzania and Zambia where they can grow to twenty feet tall in the wild. I couldn't find any information about what pollinates these plants in their native environment, but whatever it is must be active at night, because when I woke up this morning the flowers were all closed up and the fragrance significantly diminished. Maybe I'll try a little hand pollination and see if they produce fruit!

This is just one of the species of plants we share our home with. Since I'm not a great green thumb, most of what we grow inside are nearly indestructable vines like Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) and Philodendron (P. scandens), both of which thrive as cuttings in jars of water all over the house.

We also have Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura) and Peacock Plant (Calathea makoyana), which really love the misty atmosphere of the bathroom. All of these are indigenous to tropical forests in South America.

Another one that survives benign neglect as a house plant is the Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa), which was once native to China. Now this species has been completely domesticated and is no longer found in the wild.

Interesting that we recreate a bit of jungle inside with our "house plants." Is this a deeply embedded biological thing, going back to our roots? (pun!)

1 comment:

Amber said...

That is really cool. I've had a few of those over the years and didn't know they ever bloomed. I have to have house plants, just feels dead in my house without them.