Identifying a BIG Plant

Discussion in 'Plants: Identification' started by Cindycat, Nov 2, 2002.

  1. Cindycat

    Cindycat Member

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    Location:
    Oklahoma City, OK
    We spent the first two weeks of October in Vancouver, the Gulf Islands and on Vancouver Island. First in the UBC gardens, then several more places throughout the area, we saw a plant with tall flower stalks and huge leaves at the ends of long heavy stems. At UBC it was in an open area, on the same level as the espaliered fruit and that wonderful bridge/arbor structure. I found one book that indicates it might be oplopanax horridus, but I never got close enough to the plants to see if they had spines. Can you help? Thanks!

    We loved the gardens - so many beautiful things that we can't grow here in Oklahoma because we're so much warmer and drier.
     
  2. PlantExplorer

    PlantExplorer Active Member 10 Years

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    A few more words of description?

    While it may have been Oplopanax horridus, know commonly as Devil’s Club, there are many plants that might fit your description. I’ll go through some of my photographs and see if I have a shot of it, but if you could add a few details, such as flower colour, leaf shape, flower height (above or below foliage), total plant height etc – or any other details you might recall, then that would go a long way to tracking down the proper name of this plant. :-)
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2002
  3. PlantExplorer

    PlantExplorer Active Member 10 Years

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    Here is a shot of Oplopanax horridus, was this the plant you saw? The leaves are between 30-40cm across (around one foot across). This specimen is in full fruit.
     

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    Last edited: Nov 8, 2002
  4. PlantExplorer

    PlantExplorer Active Member 10 Years

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    Location:
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    I'm starting to think that the only plant that really fits you description is Gunnera manicata, a South American native that seems to do very well in coastal BC conditions.

    Although this picture is very much smaller, the plant is actually very much larger. The leaves can be up to 3meters across (10ft) on thick stems as tall as the leaves are wide. The example in this photograph is close to that size. In full sun the leaf stalks rarely exceed 2meters(6ft), however, in shady conditions they will stretch to their fullest extent.

    The flower stalks tend to be only about a meter or so in height, and well hidden below the leaves. What you may have seen were the flowers of another plant either behind the Gunnera, or even growing up through the Gunnera leaves. This wouldn't be the first time someone has seen two different plants growing close together, and assumed that what they were seeing was a single species.

    There are dozens of other possible candidates for this big plant, but I think I’ll just let this string fade away - unless Cindycat checks back in to either confirm or deny my suggestions. Not that it hasn't been fun, it's just that there are so many other botanical mysteries to solve.
     

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    Last edited: Nov 9, 2002
  5. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    I think you might be right - I was puzzling over what was near the food garden or arbour garden that resembles the description given. I couldn't think of anything - but now that you mention it, UBC's Gunnera manicata is nearby, but on the other side of the pavilion.

    I was going to take a picture of it this morning, but the cold nights have reduced it to a clump of brown decaying organic matter for the year, so instead I suggest also browsing through Google's image links to Gunnera in addition to what's already been posted.
     
  6. Caroline

    Caroline Member

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    Gunnera Photo (Stanley Park, Vancouver)

    This might help our Oklahoman pal:
     

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  7. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    Location:
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    I had never seen Gunnera until we drove up again to Vancouver, and saw one at the park. I photographed my wife next to it.

    Then I found one in the nursery here near Beaverton, Oregon.

    We had no place in the yard to shade it longer than the 1pm to sunset shade east of our house, so I gave it to the neighbor's.

    Its impressive how big it grows from a 2 gallon pot in a year and a half.

    The nicest one's here are in filtered most of the day shade.
     
  8. PlantExplorer

    PlantExplorer Active Member 10 Years

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    Good News and Bad

    The good news is that shade is not a requirement to grow Gunnera, However it will attain its greatest height in the shade as it tries to reach for the sun..

    Gunnera manicata (and its smaller cousin Gunnera tinctoria) can easily be grown in full sun, even subtropical sun, if given sufficient water. They do particularly well in boggy situations, however, they may be grown in ordinary garden soil if provided with a little shade and relatively steady moisture.

    So the good news is that you can grow it in your yard, but the bad news is that you may have to buy another.
     

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