Gunnera

Discussion in 'Botany Photo of the Day Submissions' started by PlantExplorer, Jun 25, 2008.

  1. PlantExplorer

    PlantExplorer Active Member 10 Years

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    Gunnera plants are popular for their giant herbaceous foliage and dramatic tropical appearance in temperate gardens, but two of the most popular members tend to be mis-identified.
    The two giant species generally found in cultivation are Gunnera maincata and G. tinctoria – but this is a little confusing, as these can often be sold under several other names. The one species that tends to be the most often mis-identified is G. tinctoria, which may be found listed as (in alphabetical order) G. brasiliensis, G. chillensis, G. maincata (misapplied), G. scabra.
    Gunnera manicata may occasionally be found with the name G. brasiliensis.
    So, how to tell them apart? The leaves, although subtly different, are not a good indicator. While most books generally compare the size of the two species, this can be misleading, as the two species must be compared when growing in the same conditions. Gunnera tinctoria may be on average somewhat smaller, but when grown in optimal conditions it can attain sizes that rival many specimens of G. manicata. The flower and later the fruit clusters, however, can give you a clear idea of which species you’re looking at.
    The inflorescence of Gunnera manicata emerges very large and is broadly conical in shape with a fairly pale reddish colouration. This will elongate to a metre or more in length with a diameter of up to 40 cm.
    Gunnera tinctoria, on the other hand, will develop narrowly conical inflorescences with a distinctly brick-red colouration, rarely exceeding 70 cm in length, and 20 cm in diameter.
    BTW – my most recent books date to 2003, so the names of these species may yet have more recent synonyms.
     

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  2. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    I think its a bit odd that I never saw any big ones here large enough to catch my attention to learn about them for years and years.

    Then I saw a big one in Stanley Park when we drove up to Vancouver about 9 years ago.

    Since then, I've seen several big ones locally and noticed smaller ones.

    Bought one about 8 years ago for our last house. Purchased the Gunnera not long after the visit in Canada.
     
  3. PlantExplorer

    PlantExplorer Active Member 10 Years

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    In Vancouver the oldest most memorable planting of Gunnera manicata is situated in the quarry garden in Queen Elizabeth Park, but the plantings in Stanley Park and VanDusen Garden are also quite impressive.

    So, the question is: What species are you growing?
     
  4. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Useful, thanks!

    Have to take a look next time I see any (it isn't commonly planted here so don't see it often). My memory is of the inflorescences being green, but that's later in the year - how can they be told then?
     
  5. PlantExplorer

    PlantExplorer Active Member 10 Years

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    While the fruit clusters on both species tend to be green during the summer, Gunnera tinctoria will develop and swell to the point where they almost resemble giant corn cobs, while G. manicata fruit clusters are looser, with the central stem remaining at least partially visible. In both cases the individual berries are minute (barely 2-3mm in diameter), but G. tinctoria tends to have brighter coloured fruit.
     

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    Last edited: Jun 26, 2008
  6. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Thanks! Looser, with the stem visible, rings a bell. So I'd guess the ones I've seen were G. manicata.
     
  7. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    They're native here, where we call them "Poor man's umbrellas" - I've grown G. manicata and G. tinctoria, and the second is more common in the wild here.
     
  8. PlantExplorer

    PlantExplorer Active Member 10 Years

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    If you have any pictures of Gunnera in the wild, that would be great to see.
     
  9. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    This first one was some little weevil that preys on the leaves of the Gunneras, leaving (evenutally) only the veins, like lace.

    The rest (full plant shots) must be on my archive discs - I'm sure I do have them....
     

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