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Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Trevesia palmata is my favorite plant...this week.


Trevesia palmata is another gorgeous member of the Araliaceae family.  I'm fortunate to have two of them.  One is Trevesia palmata and the other Trevesia palmata 'Micholitzii.'

There are two differences  I've noticed in the two plants; one  is the color of the tomentum on immature leaves, the other is that the leaves of 'Micholitzii' are more deeply incised  so they have a lacier look.  I am in no way an expert on this or any plant, these are just my observations of my two plants grown is similar conditions.

 In the straight species, the tomentum on immature leaves is this brownish tan color.

Looks like this as the leaf gets a bit larger.
 Mature leaves look like this. 


'Micholitzii' has a paler, almost white covering of fur.

Which becomes more pronounced as the leaves grow. 


Mature leaves look like this.  Can you see how it got the common name Snowflake Aralia?  San Marcos Growers website says that these are "15 - 20 foot trees with few to no side branches and topped with a crown of long stalked 1-2 foot wide leaves that are deeply lobed with each lobe deeply cut, giving the leaf a lacy snowflake look."  Like most members of this family, you can cut them to the ground, they'll come back, and you can root the top, doubling your collection.  It's such a beautiful plant, it's a pity we don't see them offered for sale very often. 

It makes a great houseplant and is tolerant of fairly low light conditions inside which is a good thing as it's only hardy to USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)  Mine come inside during the coldest months of the year. I got tiny plants a couple of times but failed with them.  these larger plants which have been with me for 2 and 4 years have been tough as nails.  It must have something to do with the "drought tolerant once established" thing and my forgetfulness about watering houseplants in the winter when it's sopping wet outside.  

Here's more interesting information from the San Marcos website:
"This species is indigenous to northern India, southern China, Vietnam and Thailand. In its native habitat this plant can be found growing to 30 feet tall but likely no more than 20 feet in cultivation and more often it is grown as a large shrub. It is sparsely branched with white pubescent stems and a loose broad canopy of oddly shaped leaves with small yellow flowers that are followed by 1/2 inch fruit in tight ball-like clusters. The most attractive aspect of this plant is its 2 to 2 1/2 foot wide, rounded in outline, leaves of a type called pseudocompound, meaning that they look compound but actually are not. The lobes (false leaflets) are attached to a rounded plate-like area at the base of the leaf that attaches to the 2 to 3 foot long prickly petioles. These lobes themselves are so intricately and deeply lobed that they individually look like pinnately compound leaves. The genus name Trevesia was described by the Italian botanist Roberto de Visiani (1800-1878) in 1840 to honor the family Treves of the Bonfili of Padua, who were great supporters of botanical research. The specific epithet was actually from a name described earlier by the Scottish botanist William Roxburgh (1751-1815) who had described this plant as Gastonia palmata and its specific name transferred with it to Trevesia in 1842 when Visiani segregated Gastonia. This specific epithet is in reference to the leaves being palmately lobed."

I'm Joining with Loree at Danger Garden in posting my weekly favorite.  Click on over to her blog to see other weekly favorites.  What plant is grabbing your attention this week?

21 comments:

  1. One of the plants I've lusted after for years! But not very hardy so alas, I have to content myself with Fatsia and Schefflera.

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    1. It's not hardy here either so it's part of the twice annual migration of plants. Fatsia and Schefflera are wonderful plants that I love and have growing in the ground. Much easier on the back as well!

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  2. Both are stunning! I've heard somewhere that Micholitzii is less hardy than the species, have you heard something similar to that before?

    Alas not hardy here (not that I'd want to experiment anyway)....

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    1. I don't know about a difference in hardiness. San Marcos lists them as being the same. I do know that Micholitzii has shed all its leaves during the spring for the last couple of years. I don't know if it's an irrigation thing or if it's reacting negatively to the increasing sun in the very bright room where it spends the winter. It always puts out a nice new crown of leaves when I move it outside. The straight species hasn't lost it's leaves for me but it's been in a bit darker situation.

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  3. Love these, both of them. Do you remember where you bought yours? I've never seen them for sale...

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    1. Both originally came from San Marcos Growers. Micholitzii came from Dragonfly Farms and the straight species came from Valley Nursery. The two smaller ones that I killed years ago came from a tropical nursery back east somewhere (Might have been Logees but I seem to remember glass being in the name.) Back in those days, I started calling nurseries to find plants. Isn't the internet cool?

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  4. "You can root the top, doubling your collection". Dare we hope? I'm thinking plant swap, but it might devolve into a mud-wrestling match if there were only one or two of these magnificent beauties.

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    1. I haven't tried rooting them yet but this spring I'll give air layering a try and see if I can have some for the swap next fall.

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  5. I echo what Loree said. I think you set off a major wave of envy with this post, LOL.

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    1. I think it's often available at San Marcos Growers if you ever get down that way.

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  6. What an amazing leaf your plant has, it is so beautiful! I've never seen anything like it over here, waves of jealousy are coming your way!

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    1. It's a lovely thing! There is no greener green than plant envy!

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  7. Yet another plant I can't recall ever seeing here. I wonder why. San Marcos Growers say "medium" water - what does that mean in practice?

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    1. You need a psychic to do an incantation over the water before you irrigate. They also say drought tolerant once established. It's all very confusing.

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  8. Oh!! I love them! I didn´t know about their existence. I got excited for a moment thinking they were going to be hardy.

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  9. This is yet another plant I have never heard of before, thanks for all the interesting info :-)

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    1. It's always a joy to introduce my plant friends to my human ones!

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  10. What a beautiful leaf structure! Wonderful.

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  11. This is such a cool plant! Too bad it's not hardy here - I can think of a Fatsia japonica in my garden that would be in fear of its life, or at least its cushy spot near the front door ;-) If I were to come across either of these, they'd come home with me. Nice post, Peter.

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  12. Fascinating leaves! I love the white on Micholitzii

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Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I love to hear your thoughts.