Ruscus hypoglossum

Jim McKenney
Tue, 09 Mar 2010 12:42:30 PST
Although this list is focused on bulby plants, we occasionally wander a bit
to discuss related plants even if they are not, strictly speaking,
geophytes. I’m going to do that now.


Blooming now in one of the cold frames is Ruscus hypoglossum. Ruscus is a
genus of asparagus relatives, monocots, odd seemingly shrub-like plants
which are not woody and whose “leaves” are really cladodes and/or
cladophylls: flattened, leaf-like branches. Millions of people have probably
seen Ruscus aculeatus without knowing what it is because that species is
colleted for holiday decoration. The branches are dried and then spray
painted various colors and sometimes sprinkled with glitter. In life they
are hard and rather repellent; once dried they are, if possible,  more so. 


But these are interesting plants. At first glance, Ruscus hypoglossum looks
like what you might get if you crossed R. aculeatus and Danaë racemosa, at
least with respect to the foliage. 



The flowers of Ruscus hypoglossum are pale green stars about a half
centimeter across. They form along the center of the cladodes, and are set
against other bract-like structures which might just be true leaves
(opinions vary). 


Obviously, this is not a plant whose flowering will get your picture on the
front page of the local daily. In fact, even most of your gardening friends
will probably wonder about your preoccupation with tiny green and brown
things, especially since the space it occupies could so easily be put to
better (in their opinion)  use. 


Jim McKenney

Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, 39.03871º North, 77.09829º West, USDA zone

My Virtual Maryland Garden



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