Cromwell Bottom

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Friday, 5 February 2016

Focus on Monbretia

Post by Gordon, FEET Member -

Montbretia, Crocosmia pottsii x aurea = C. x crocosmiiflora.

27th Novmember 2015

About a week ago, (I've been busy since)I took a stroll round Cromwell Bottom. We started out looking for Bryophytes, but got waylaid and had a very nice walk anyway. The Bryophytes are still on the agenda.

At the gas flume station, I stopped to look at the Montbretia plants. These have been planted at sometime, (rather than naturally occurring there). They are just in front of the flume on the slope facing the bridge. I mentioned that this year was the first time Anne had not cut the flower stems off once they finished flowering. As a result, we have seen the seed pods for the very first time. I The pods start out pale green, change to yellow, then orange, they are quite attractive. Each seed pod holds three seeds.

I took a few photos of pods and seeds, then Colin pointed out that you don't see any information about plants in general from seed to flower and the stages in between. We agreed is would make a good blog post, this post is a result of that discussion.

Before we get to the images, I'll talk about the plant for a short while.

Crocosmia originated in South Africa but they have been cultivated all around the world. Crocosmia used to be known as Montbretia, but this is no longer considered to be its correct name. It's properly called Crocosmia aurea

The name ‘Crocosmia’ comes from the Latin ‘croceus’, which means ‘saffron-coloured’. The dried leaves smell of saffron when put in hot water and rubbed. The Greek word, krokos is for saffron and osme for smell.

The Montbretia which is the subject of this post is a hybrid of two plants. It was bred in France in 1879 by Victor Lemoine of  Nancy and first flowered in 1880. It is a mix of a crocosmia the grows by streams and a woodland species. Crocosmia have around 13 different species, as well as 3 other hybrids, including the crocosmoides and crocosmiiflora. The plant Montbretia was named after Antoine Fran's Ernest Conquebert de Monbret, a botanist who accompanied Napoleon on his Egypt campaign in 1798.

Crocosmia aurea blossoms throughout the summer. It is seen at its best in July and August, but it can survive right through the winter. They don’t always require a lot of good, rich soil to grow properly – they're known to grow in rocky patches in wild areas of Africa. However, grown in pots with plenty of organic mater and feed, they produce much bigger flowers and are quite showy. They grow from 1 to 3 feet high. The bright colours of Crocosmia also attract aphid eating hoverflies to the garden.

Oh, yes, I almost forgot to tell you, the seeds are fertile, the plant spreads by seed and corms.

So, before you become bored, here are the photos:

Crocosmia aurea flowers,
Commons licence, Wiki images.

Photo taken by the gas flume
showing pods ripening

Leaf, stem and seed pods

Corm, and stem
(I replanted this in the garden afterwards.)

Corm and tap roots

Pods on the stem, some waiting to open

Two seed pods

Seeds in various stages of ripeness

Two unripe seeds in the pod

One malformed seed and a ripening 
one in the same compartment.
The two lower compartments are barren,
 possibly due to the mutation in the pod.

One unripe seed (left) and one ripe one

Empty pod, showing the 3 compartments

The final stage: The stems and pods dry out
becoming brown and woody.

So there we have it. As as far as I'm aware, this is possibly the only post showing the plant in all it's stages. A little bit of history in the making, before your very eyes!

Try to keep out of this dreadful rain and ignore the depressing grey skies.

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