Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Epigea repens: I was just minding my own business, poking around in the Fern Valley seed flats and look what I found

Trailing Arbutus in bloom. Grown from seed collected from wild (non-cultivated) plants. Wow. This is one of just about everyone's favorite native plants; it has a wonderful fragrance. It's also pretty finicky about where it grows. I think of some plants, including this one, as "chameleon plants" not because they can change color, but because, like chameleons, out of every 1,000 that are planted in the garden, or (in the case of chameleons) put into cages, at least 999 are dead in some short period of time. Still....we're experts and I have every faith in Joan's ability to select an excellent site. There is supposed to be a small colony (naturally occurring?) on Mt. Hamilton, but I have never succeeded in locating it.

I do remember collecting this seed with Jeanna and Joan. At some point somebody's going to have to bite the bullet, and get these plants into the ground.....though even I see how there could be a natural disinclination to change something that's working. Still, I believe they germinated a whole seed tray of Epigea last year from the latest collecting  trip. In numbers we may generate the  courage to take the bold step.

1 comment:

Garrett Herth said...

From what I'm told they like well draining acidic soil similar to other heaths. On Long Island they grow in the pine barrens where the soil is mostly sand with oak leaves and pine needles mixed in. Usually white oak or scrub oak. The soil has some organic matter. I read somewhere that they depend on ants for seed dispersal.