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Discussion in 'Plants: Identification' started by wcutler, May 19, 2011.
Well done for your determination to get to the facts!
Part of the problem was reading that most of what is planted is G. tinctoria, mistaken for G. manicata, whereas it seems that almost everything I was seeing was G. manicata.
Glad you figured it out Wendy.
In the UK, older established plantings in places like botanical gardens and large estate gardens open to the public are usually Gunnera manicata, maybe it is the same over there. It makes sense as they would have been planted for the pure spectacle of a large plant and as such would have used the larger species. Older references in gardening books also claim G. manicata is the main species encountered; I think the proliferation of Gunnera tinctoria in the nursery trade is a relatively recent phenomenon, perhaps due to its smaller size and tolerance for drier soil.
Is there an Herbarium close to you that could help?
The problem was that the labels on the plants at the botanical gardens are what was in question.
Well, at least you got it figured out! It took us almost 3 years to figure out that an unidentified species growing in the Quito Botanical Gardens was in fact Anthurium cupulispathum that had adapted a bit oddly to the gardens' extreme altitude.
Lorax, I'm glad this didn't take three years too. Maybe some of our not-so-clear examples are also odd adaptations to our climate.
I only photographed the G. tinctoria at the Italian garden at the PNE (Pacific National Exhibition, like a state fair), but there's also a G. manicata in the same area for comparison. The inflorescence branches on the manicata were narrow and pointed at the tips, as they are in almost all of the photos below. What was strikingly different as well were the leaf surfaces. I could run my hand over the manicata surface, but the tinctoria surface was so rough that I was unable to slide my hand along it at all. And, as maf has mentioned, the manicata leaves were mostly flat and the tinctoria ones were mostly cupped.
The gunnera at UBC Botanical Garden is currently mis-labeled. The specimen is Gunnera tinctoria. This species, which is somewhat smaller than G. manicata, with which it is frequently confused, is more easily propagated and much more common in cultivation, at least locally. It has inflorescence branches that are generally perky and stiff, and leaves that only grow to about 2 m across. Gunnera tinctoria lines the ditches all over southwestern Ireland, is a pest in New Zealand and has escaped cultivation in Tofina-area gardens. There are numerous specimens of both G. tinctoria and the even more impressive G. manicata (leaves to 3 m across) in many of Vancouver's larger parks.
The identification of the two cold-hardy large-leaved gunneras is one of my personal demons. I regularly mix up the names and features and have to review my own notes and photographs on an almost annual basis. Only last week, I confidently told a group of students that the smaller of the two is G. manicata. D'oh!
Spines aside, this is an adventure playground for kids. Perfect place to hide and seek. But Haloragaceae or Gunneraceae?
Bottom of this NZ page has a great pair of photos distinguishing the fruiting bodies of G.tinctoria and G.manicata.
I don't know about that - see the last comment in posting #9.
It has its new label now.
What's particularly good about this is that the Friends of the Garden volunteers won't be mislead into putting out a sign saying they're carrying this in the shop when their plants are G. manicata.
Since this is my everything-Gunnera thread, it seems like the place to post this photo of new plants growing from the middle of a leaf on this Gunnera tinctoria privately planted street planting. I haven't seen this on Gunnera before.
Someone with me asked for the name of that phenomenon, which I can't remember and can't figure out how to query, would be happy to learn. Thanks.
I just read that this is my "everything Gunnera" thread, so even though nothing has happened here for seven years, I'm posting a photo from today here. And I'll add one I posted elsewhere, but not in my thread. Gunnera manicata, I think the same group of plants at the bike and walking paths along the Greig Rhododendron Garden in Stanley Park.
This Gunnera manicata at the Parks Board office building is maybe half the height or less of the one in the previous posting, and there are some cup-shaped leaves. But the loose flower structure shows it to have this ID.
Next time you come to UK may I suggest a visit to TREBAH gardens in Cornwall.
There they have a forest of Gunnera manicata with a path running through it.
trebah gunnera manicata garden - Google Search
Cornwall: Trebah Garden
Thanks, Silver surfer. I love the photo of the kids walking along the path under it.
This might be of interest.
Gunnera ..Ban in UK. etc
Quote from link below...
"Now a study by the Royal Horticultural Society, which involved molecular and morphological analyses, as well as a historical investigation, has revealed that G manicata appears to have been lost from cultivation not long after it was introduced. In its place the researchers found a hybrid between G manicata and G tinctoria, which has been named Gunnera × cryptica."
Individual plant specimens don't adapt. When success outside of assumed parameters occurs it is because those assumptions were wrong. The kind of plant having broader or otherwise different tolerances than had been thought previously.
Link to the original articles:
Not surprising Gunnera manicata has been lost in UK cultivation, it's from southern Brazil, so tropical, or at best subtropical. G. tinctoria from Chile is temperate, so hardy. And looks like the hybrid has inherited the hardiness factor.
I'd long been surprised that a tropical Brazilian plant like G. manicata could survive UK winters - seems now I was right, it hadn't :-)