Saturday, February 25, 2012

Crocosmia X crocosmiiflora Montbretia

 Waterfalls of fire is how I describe a time of the year that for six to eight weeks the hybrid 'Crocosmia X crocosmiiflora' or as it is more traditionally known as 'Montbretia crocosmiiflora', puts on its striking display. A common plant that can be seen growing in small patches all over the Western areas of the Wairarapa, but it saves its best show blooming on the sides of the narrow and winding roads in the district of  Mangamaire.The photos where taken 15 days ago which was about the middle of the bloom season. Easy to grow and undemanding of care and soil, the plants have curving sword shaped leaves, broad trumpet-shaped flowers with widely open and flaring tepals and it's tell tale ring of small V-shaped crimson markings around the flowers centre. A primary hybrid from a cross Crocosmia aurea X Crocosmia pottsii and a winner of the Royal horticultural Society First Class Certificate 1883. Superseded by larger flowered cultivars.
I grow a small colony of  'Crocosmia X crocosmiiflora' and its self seeding can be controlled by dead-heading the blooms, and just recently I have purchased 50 bulbs of the hard to come by 'Lucifer' which was selected from hybrids created by crossing C. x crocosmiiflora 'Jackanapes', with C. paniculata and C. masonorum, can also come true from seed and self seed, its a Alan Broom 1969 selection. 'Lucifer' was awarded the RHS Certificate of Preliminary Commendation, 1977, an RHS Award of Garden Merit in 1993, and named '2010 summer bulb of the year' by the Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Centre.
Both varieties are super useful as a cut flower.
Crocosmia the species is from the summer rainfall forests and grasslands of eastern Southern Africa and parts of tropical Africa and Madagascar and is a genus in the Iridaceae family.

Bank on the side of a road, Mangamaire

Crocosmia aurea X Crocosmia pottsii
Montbretia X crocosmiiflora  Lemoine, The Garden 18; 188 (21st August 1881) as M.crocosmiaeflora'.Tritonia X crocosmiiflora (Lemoine)
Nicholson, Illustrated Dictionary of Gardening 4 : 94 (1888), as "T. crocosmiflora".
C. × crocosmiiflora (Nicholson) N. E. Brown Transactions Royal Society, South Africa 20;264. (1932)
De Vos, Journal of South African Botany 50: 497 (1984)

crocosmiiflora from Crocosmia and the Latin florum, flower, thus 'with flowers resembling those of Crocosmia

Exerts from Flora of New Zealand Volume 3
Dust Jacket summary
Volume III describes the introduced wild plants belonging to the rush, sedge,lily, iris, arum, and related families, the first comprehensive account of these plants since H. H. Allan's Handbook of the Naturalized flora of New Zealand of 1940
Volume III is a "weed flora". Much of the text is devoted to two large groups, the rushes and the sedges with their green or brown insignificant flowers, which are always a problem in agriculture, difficult to identify individually, and in which the native species cannot easily be distinguished from introduced ones and are equally weedy. In contrast many garden plants of the lily, iris and related families are included, ones which have escaped into the wild. They make splashes of colour on roadsides and waste places, and among the brightest are watsonia, montbretia, wild ginger, and Kaffir lily.
This book is an identification manual, intended for agriculturalists concerned with weed control, for botanists making vegetation surveys, for anyone, in fact, who needs to identify these weedy plants. Keys cover monocotyledonous introduced and native genera (except grasses), and introduced and native species when both occur in the same genus. There is also a key to families and some genera based mainly on vegetative characters. Historical background too is provided, for the plants have been an ever-increasing component of the flora of New Zealand. For each species the first published record of its occurrence in New Zealand is cited, together with the present known distribution. The mode of dispersal and other ecological data relating to the more aggressive species are discussed, and comments on their significance as weeds are included.
Flora of New Zealand Volume 3
Page 122

*C. × crocosmiiflora (Nicholson) N. E. Brown Transactions Royal Society, South Africa 20;264. (1932)
Stiff, leafy, clump-forming, rhizomatous, 60-90 cm high. Corm ± 3.5 × 1.5 cm, flattened; tunic fibrous, light brown, 3 or more successive corms at base of shoot. Leaves firm, ± erect to curving above, ± 2 cm wide, slightly < flowering scape, outer short and sheath-like at base of stem, with basal fan and a few cauline leaves, midvein ± conspicuous. Inflorescence 15-30 cm long, cymose, branches few, axis zigzag; spathe-valves reddish-purple-brown, ± 5 mm long at flowering, lengthening to 1 cm at fruiting. Flowers reddish-orange, ± 3 cm long, 4-5 cm diam., ± distant; tube narrow, 1 cm long; lobes spreading above, outer deeper coloured on back, subacute, inner obtuse, one wider than other two. Capsule ± 5 mm long, green, oblong-trigonous. Seeds c. 6 at maturity, ± 3 mm long, reddish-brown, compressed-triangular, surface minutely papillose.
N., S. Throughout. St. Oban. On roadsides and waste land, a garden escape well-naturalised.
FL. 1-2
(Artificial hybrid, Crocosmia aurea × pottsii made by M. Lemoine of Nancy; (see André Rev. Hort. 54, 1882, 124-125).
First record: Allan 1935: 3, as "C. aurea Planch."
First collection: "Puriri, Thames, alluvial land, H. Carse, late Jan. 1929, common on banks of streams in the Thames District" (CHR 3531).
This hybrid Crocosmia was commonly planted in gardens, and about cemeteries in earlier years, and some forms proved troublesome, spreading rapidly from corms and rhizomes. Disposal of surplus corms to roadsides and waste places has given rise to widely occurring, well established colonies in grassy situations, especially in some west coast, South Island localities. Road construction and use of roadside soil as fill have been responsible for some extensive communities; corms are dispersed locally by graders, and by water in roadside drains.

C. X crocosmiiflora is listed above as CROCOSMÆFLORA, H. C. Gibbons & Co. Hutt Valley Nurseries, Lower Hutt, New Zealand, 1904.

Now I have to note before the plant police fill my inbox with long-winded 'did you know' emails, Crocosmia X crocosmiiflora is considered by some New Zealand City Councils as invasive, and this is the reason I added
the informative dust jacket summary from Flora of New Zealand Volume III above. The 'New Zealand Gardener' magazine in 2010 nominated C. X crocosmiiflora to be among the 'Twenty worst weeds', the article stated that C. X crocosmiiflora will invade roadways which is complete bunk, the reason the plant grows on road verges is not because it has invaded or escaped by wind blown seeds or the like to its new-found growing space, its because it was deported there from gardens or dumped by gardeners on the sides of roads when they have tired of the plant so it is not the plants fault that it has colonised the sides of roads, its grows there because of a people bad behavior problem, I also note that I have yet to see a garden that has been completely taken over by  C. X crocosmiifloraThe article (20
 worst weeds) introduction is by New Zealands #1 gardening advice comedian, so its hard to take seriously. The 'New Zealand Gardener' magazine content generally consists of a huge amount of gardening advertorial wonk placed between countless pages of ads, its a shocker, but I digress!! (I'll post more on this subject later)

Edgar, E and A.J. Healy (1980) Flora of New Zealand Botany Division, Department of Scientific and Industrial Reserch, Government Printer, Wellington, New Zealand.
Goldblatt, P, J. Manning and G. Dunlop, with illustrations by A Batten (2004) Crocosmia and Chasmanthe, Royal Horticultural Society, Timber Press, Portland. Cambridge

Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter



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