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The name of genus Xanthorrhoea comes from the Greek Xanthos for yellow and rheo meaning flow, referring to a yellow resin exuded from the trunk of some species of Xanthorrhoea.
The Xanthorrhoea genus is part of the Xanthorrhoeaceae family, which is made up of small trees or perennials with woody stems. The leaves are tough and linear, and the flowers are radially symmetrical, bisexual, and spike-like.
Commonly called Grass Trees, Xanthorrhoea plants are also known as Balga Grass to the Australian aborigines, which is their word for black boy. The Aborigines probably called these plants balga because after a wild fire, the bottom leaves burn away revealing a singed black trunk with long green reed-like leaves extending from the top of the trunk giving the appearance of black figures. All species of Xanthorrhoea are very slow growing, but they are also very long lived - up to 600 years! Long straight spears of white blossoms extend from the top of the tree especially in the year following wild fires.
The glassy resin which exudes from the trunks was previously used in varnish and other products. The flakes of resin were collected from around the base of the stem, heated and rolled into balls.The flowering spikes of the grass tree were soaked in water to make a sweet drink, fresh or slightly fermented. The soft bases of the young leaves were eaten. Tough leaves were used as knives. Europeans harvested the gum to make varnishes and lacquers.
Generally frost tolerant, all Xanthorrhoea require well-drained soil and a sunny location because they are prone to root rot. They can be grown very successfully in pots.
Unusually variegated Aroid, it has irregularly margined leaves which when first opening, its edges are a cream yellow, later turning white, and often swirled. A show stopper! This plant is thought to be a mutation of a species. Most think it is a form of atrovirens or even a possible hybrid. The leaves are never identical most are streaked with large blotches of white on dark blue green leaves. One of the most odd features of the plant is the fact that most leaves will develop a small cup like pocket at the leaf tip and sometimes a small string like structure will form. Plants usually grow with leaves held horizontally. It is always a conversation piece in the garden. Mighty Mouse can reach 3-4 ft at full maturity making it a wonderful addition to your jungle.
The Xanthosoma species are plants of the tropical rain forest and, although in their natural habitat they grow under the forest canopy, under cultivation they are usually sown with full exposure to sunlight. They require well-drained soils and do not tolerate the permanent presence of water. The usable parts are the subterranean tuberous stems which have a nutritional value comparable to the potato and are probably easier to digest. A secondary use is of consumption of the young leaves, similar to spinach. Leafy species of Xanthosoma not grown for tubers are called belembe and calalous. There are actually two different malangas: Malanga blanca (Xanthosoma sagittifolium), considered the true malanga, which grows on dry land. The other is malanga amarillo (Colocasia esculenta) which grows in wet bog-like areas. Cultivars with purple stems or leaves are also variously called Blue Taro, Purple Taro, Purplestem Tannia, and Purple Elephant's Ear among others.
Edible tubers (cormels) are formed in the soil at the base of the plant. A central large tuber (corm) is formed, with a cluster of cormels, grayish brown to black lateral tubers, around it. Malanga are about the size and shape of a regular white potato; they look a little like an overgrown gladiola bulb, because the outside skin of the malanga is brown and somewhat hairy. It generally weighs 1/2 to 2 pounds, but can be heavier. The interior has an extremely crisp texture and can vary in color from cream, yellow or pink. Malanga is often milled into flour, since malanga is probably the most hypoallergenic food in the world. Even persons with extensive allergies should do very well with this flour. The starch grains are the smallest and most easily digested of all complex carbohydrates. Malanga flour is used as a substitute for wheat flour to make cookies, quick breads, and similar items.
Rare and hard-to-find, Xanthosoma albomarginata has beautiful variegated foliage that is mottled in white and hues of green. The tips of the leaves have a curious cupped formation. Plants reach 3-5' tall.
he Xanthosoma species are plants of the tropical rain forest and, although in their natural habitat they grow under the forest canopy, under cultivation they are usually sown with full exposure to sunlight. They require well-drained soils and do not tolerate the permanent presence of water.
A sparsely branched shrub or small tree to 3 m (10 ft.) tall from maquis vegetation in southern New Caledonia with leathery, occasionally glaucous leaves to 9 cm long that cluster at the tips of the branches. It is rather variable in the color of its flowers, which can range from greenish white to red.
Xanthostemon chrysanthus, is still quite unknown outside its native country, and is pretty hard to find. This is a very desirable garden plant for warmer climates. The glorious, dense flower heads are well displayed at branches ends and are bright yellow with stunningly extended stamens reminiscent of a Bottlebrush. Flowers are sweetly fragrant and atract butterlies and hummingbirds. Bloom time in Northern hemisphere lasts from winter through early spring, which makes it especially valuable. In sub-tropical and tropical areas it flowers reliably and often within 2-3 years from seed. New leaves start out red, contrasting beautifully with older, lance shaped glossy green foliage. In native rainforest environment the tree can grow up to 40-50 ft, however in gardens it may reach only 15-20 ft. It responds well to pruning and can be easily shaped into a shrub, hedge or screen with annual pruning. Golden Penda is a favorite of birds and butterflies; it makes a good cut flower. The plant is pretty hardy, tolerates dry soil and requires almost no watering once established; however it will thrive providing moist rich soils. It can also take light frosts.
The genus name Xanthostemon comes from Greek xanthos - yellow, and stemon - a thread or stamen. The species name chrysanthus comes from Greek chrysos - gold and anthos - a flower. This plant is known as Junjum among aboriginal Australians, its hardwood used for swords, spear points and digging sticks.
Medium open slow growing shrub. It has very showy, cream flowers and beautiful dark green foliage. The flowers also have an attractive fragrance.
Another related tree is
Xerochrysum bracteatum - excellent in dried arrangements, strawflower is also pretty in the garden. It grows as a woody or herbaceous perennial or annual shrub up to a metre (3 ft) tall with green or grey leafy foliage. Golden yellow or white flower heads are produced from spring to autumn; their distinctive feature is the papery bracts that resemble petals.
Xerochrysum bracteatum has proven very adaptable to cultivation. It was propagated and developed in Germany in the 1850s, and annual cultivars in a host of colour forms from white to bronze to purple flowers became available.
Xerosicyos danguyi is a climbing vine with cylindrical stems and thick succulent round leaves up to 2 inches across with long tendrils for climbing. Xerosicyos danguyi need warm to hot temperatures and at least 4 hours of full sun per day with a well-drained soil.