Considering the wide breadth of plant photos I took through our month in the Caribbean, it comes as a surprise how often I keep reaching for images of ginger family plants to show here. Perhaps it is because there are just so many more than I ever imagined, or perhaps because the remainder of he winter has been gray and these flowers are bold and BRIGHT. Whatever the reason, here’s another one.
The spiral growth pattern of this one is unique and I believe we saw a variegated version of it as well, but try as I might, I was unable to find a photo in my files. Meanwhile, I only have about 30 more rolls of film to develop (about 360 images) from that trip alone! There is also a bag of film with rolls dating back to last August.
I suppose it could be in there somewhere.
This is a tricky one as I haven’t yet properly identified it. Perhaps you can help? I took this picture at Papillote Gardens in Dominica. The tag read, “amomum cardamomum”, but both are actually words for cardamom and together do not make a botanical name. It was definitely a type of cardamom or at the very least, something in the ginger family. It turns out that there are a lot more ginger family plants than I ever imagined so my claim to knowledge in this area is forever humbled.
My best guess is that this is some kind of black cardamom (Amomum subulatum) or Amomum subulatum fresh off the plant. I have searched high and low but have been unable to find a photo of the plant with fresh pods to confirm its identification. My other thought is that it could be some kind of related, inferior (or false) cardamom that I’ve never heard of.
And so I put it out to you. What do you think it is?
As Davin was holding the open pod, the purple colour staining his skin (which I might add he picked and opened without encouragement from me) he kept saying, “I hope this isn’t poisonous.” I suggested that if there was any doubt, he should wash his hand immediately and refrain from sticking it in his mouth anytime soon. And then, you know, hope that skin contact doesn’t act as a good delivery system for this particular poison. Two months later he is still alive so apparently it wasn’t.
The life of a botanical hand model is wrought with peril.
This morning I set out to find a bright and cheery photograph that might bring some colour to our day. But this soft and fuzzy echeveria called out to me.
I took this picture a few weeks back on my trip to speak at the Montreal Seed Fair. I first noticed the plant in the Botanical Gardens store and coveted it right away. The leaves are soft, plush and invite you to touch. There were even little pups growing alongside. I had to have it! But as my friend Gwynne remarked, “We can’t give in to all of our desires. Then where would we be?”
And so as not to become a giant ball of id, I decided this was one botanical desire that would remain a nice memory.
On my second day at the Seed Fair, I ducked out for a bit and went into the cactus and succulent greenhouse. And there it was in a big mass of soft leaves and long, gnarled, messy stems.
I immediately made a beeline back to the store and bought it.
I first came upon this incredibly strange ginger (Zingiber spectabile) while touring a wonderful garden and wilderness retreat in Dominica called Papillote.
I need some colour today so I decided to pull out a photo of a false roselle (Hibiscus acetosella) flower, one of the most beautiful plants I learned about in St. Lucia.
Our friend David called it bronze roselle, but I haven’t been able to find references to that name online. I believe it is called false roselle because it is closely related to Hibiscus sabdariffa, the plant that is used to make sorrel. However, the part that is typically used to make the drink (the calyx) is small, hard and tough on this plant and didn’t seem like it would extract much flavour while the calyx on real sorrel (also called roselle) is plumper.
I’m planning to grow it this year but I imagine it is going to prove to be a bit of a challenge. The plant is big; David’s plants were about 5-7 feet tall. I think I’m going to have to sacrifice one of my the garbage bins I typically save for growing tomatoes. It’s also a long season plant — I’m planning to start my seeds next week to get a good jump on the season. Even if I don’t see flowers before the first frost I can’t imagine being disappointed. The deep red foliage catches the sunlight so beautifully and should pop when sat next to tall, green indeterminate tomatoes.