Sunday, April 29, 2012

Stiff Jasmine

Jasminum simplicifolium subsp. australiense  (Jasminum volubile, Jasminum australe)
This plant has been attracting attention around the district, over the last month or so. All through the long drought, it produced few fruits, but this year must have been just right for it. It is usually a rather inconspicuous climber, but it is being noticed for its generous bunches of fleshy black berries, with their dark red finger-staining juice.

The fruits are (theoretically) 2-lobed, consisting of two fruits with a single seed each. They are all conceived as twins, but many of the seeds are aborted at an early stage, so the fruits become singletons. Sometimes you tiny fleshy globe, indicating  where the second seed was aborted.
Unripe green fruits have a rather attractive pearly sheen.
Stiff jasmine is a hardy plant, growing in habitats ranging from wet rainforests where it is a large, woody-stemmed climber, to drought-prone vine scrubs where it grows as a bulky scrambler. It will even thrive in an open site where it has nothing to climb on, becoming a large, tangled, bird-sheltering shrub. It can even be pruned to make quite a neat hedge, though it doesn’t like to be confined too narrowly.
It could be grown on a sturdy pergola. A fast-growing plant, it would soon provide a shady green roof with bird-appeal.
We have four local species of native Jasmine. All have white flowers with the typical strong “jasmine” fragrance.

This species has the largest flowers (though in most years it doesn’t produce very many of them). As is typical of rather primitive plants, it can’t decide how may petals it should have, so you will see flowers with anything between five and eight of them.
This plant is closely related to the weedy introduced privet (Ligustrum lucidum and Ligustrum sinense), and seedlings of the two can be confused with each other.

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