Monday, January 5, 2015

Rohdea japonica

This handsome plant was grown as a houseplant long before most of us realized that it had great potential as a garden plant. It certainly does not look as if it would be hardy; but hardy it is, and it seems to thrive in local gardens. The flowers are creamy white and are placed in a thick cluster which superficially suggests the bloom of some parasitic plant such as Orobanche or Conopholis. The evergreen foliage remains handsome throughout the winter and rarely shows cold damage here.
The colorful infructescence is about the size of a hen's egg, and the individual, bright red fruits are about a quarter of an inch in diameter.
The plant is easily if slowly raised from the large seeds.
Watch the spelling of the genus name: so many plants have names beginning with the letter combination rh- (the traditional transliteration of the Greek letter ρ – rho – into Latin) that the name of this plant is sometimes misspelled Rhodea, The pronunciation is tricky, too: the English eponym's name was Rohde  and was almost certainly pronounced the same way as "rode" (past tense of the verb to ride).  Thus, Rhode + a = rode-a. But one almost invariable hears rode-e-a.

1 comment:

Casa Mariposa said...

These are always listed as only hardy in zones 7-9 so I've avoided them but I'm always on the lookout for a hardy dry shade plant. Thanks for the info.