Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Corky-stemmed Silkpod.

Parsonsia leichhardtii.
Here’s something just a bit different.
This climber which was flowering last week in Frankes scrub created discussion because of its corky stem.
Of the two photos, the one at right shows a piece of stem 2m from the ground, and the lower one is the same at ground level.
I identified it, tentatively, as Parsonsia leichhardtii, but my sources made no mention of a corky stem to be expected on this species. I was delighted when friends Phil and Cheryl offered to take samples of the plant to the herbarium to get the opinion of botanists down there. They agreed that it was the “black silkpod”, P. leichhardtii, but considered the corkiness of the stem to be unusual in the species.

It is a small vine. I think that a 2m x 2m trellis would be adequate to contain one, and would be a worthwhile, if not showy garden specimen - a green screen ornamented in spring with gently pretty cream flowers, and in Autumn with its spindle-shaped seedpods which open to let the seeds float away on little brown silky parachutes.
It has the added virtue of being a butterfly host plant. Growing host plants is the best way to attract butterflies to a garden.

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