Friday, 2 March 2012

Unreal plant named after party god


Dionysus was one of the fun-loving Greek gods. His portfolio included both wine making and drinking, The Romans converted him to Bacchus and we all know what he got up to.

The plant genus which I presume was named after this festive deity, Dionysia, is a a collection of compact 'cushion-bushes' native to central Asia, and particularly Iran and Afghanistan where they grow on limestone at altitudes above 1500 metres.

To see them growing in a more hospitable and secure environment I'd recommend the Alpine House at Kew Gardens.

According to Kew's Alpine and Rock Garden team blog, the cushion consists of tiny rosettes of leaves, each one producing a single flower. I must defer to the website because all you can see at the moment are flowers!

There are 50 or so species in this genus which is closely related to Primula. If you look at the tiny flowers you can see the similarity. Almost all species are in cultivation, as well as a few hybrids such as the one at the top of my blog, Dionysia curviflora x tapetodes.

Find out how to grow them, and some far prettier pictures than mine taken this afternoon with my Blackberry, on the Alpine and Rock Garden Team blog. As a visitor said as I snapped my picture, 'they look unreal'.

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