Saturday, October 17, 2009

Petrocosmea cavaleriei - A New Kid in Town

The flower of P. cavaleriei. Very similar in appearance to P. sericea and P. sp. 'HT-2'.

By now, those who have been reading my blog have probably realized how much I love to announce a new addition to my collection of Petrocosmea, and when the new addition is a species, I am on Cloud 9. Recently, I've been enjoying and studying the blooms on P. cavaleriei, which my friend Mike Wenzel of the Atlanta Botanic Garden was kind enough to share with me last year. The label on the leaves I received show it having been collected in 2005, but gives no further information.

This photo shows one of my plants, growing in a four ounce condiment cup, with a diameter of about four inches. The plant is very similar in appearance both in leaf and flower, to P. sericea and P. sp. 'HT-2'. The plant, in all parts, though, is smaller than either of these species, and the leaves have a slightly different shape. Flowers are very similar in appearance to these two species also, with the exception of a much hairier calyx.

The Flora of China description, appears to match my plant pretty closely. FOC lists P. cavaleriei as having been described by H. Leveille in 1911 from material collected in Guizhou, China.
It is always exciting anytime a new species comes into cultivation. I have already distributed a few leaves and plants to friends, in the hope that this beautiful new addition to our Petrocosmea collections will become more widely cultivated and appreaciated. I feel we all have a responsibility to try our best to preserve plant species whenever we can. Often Petrocosmea are found in very limited numbers in a few or perhaps even one lone site on a hilltop or valley that is vulnerable to development or other loss of habitat. As was done with me in this case, the passing along of leavews or cuttings from friend to friend is how many of these rare beauties are distributed. I have acquired perhaps 85% of my Petrocosmea collection via this method. So, share your Petrocosmeas with a friend, you might just be helping to save a precious species from extinction.