Monday, August 10, 2009

X Mahoberberis

I decided I was going to write about Berberis darwinii today (first photo). But then I discovered it is proving to be somewhat weedy in parts of Tasmania. I am always particularly careful to check whether a plant is considered weedy in this country or is a banned import according to Australian Quarantine because if it is I won't write about it. So then I turned my attention to other members of the Berberidaceae family. I came across X Mahoberberis which rang a faint bell. I seem to remember that the botanists are arguing whether all the mahonias should be subsumed (gobbled up by) the genus berberis. I believe the argument is still raging. One of the reasons they are considering doing this is because some species of mahonia and berberis are capable of hybridising (having sex togther!).
The result of Berberis sargentiana and Mahonia aquifolium (second photo) getting into bed with each other is X Mahoberberis aquisargentii (third photo). The X in front of the genus indicates it is an intergeneric hybrid: a somewhat rare occurrence in nature. I thought Stephen Ryan might be selling them at his nursery Dicksonia Rare Plants so I gave him a ring. It turned out he had imported two plants from different sources and was growing them in his garden. An hour later I had photos of the said plant in the camera. It is a very strange plant! The one bush had leaves of several different types on it ranging from leaves with an entire (untoothed) margin to leaves that looked like a holly leaf and just as spiky! It would make a great impenetrable hedge! So this will be a topic to write about at some stage but not today because it wasn't in flower. I ended up writing about Canarina canariensis but that is a whole other story!

1 comment: