Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Victoria amazonica, or Water Platters

So here we are at the welcoming display for the Philly Flower Show. As I mentioned yesterday, the theme is "Passport to the World". This display, for the most part, had a South Asian/Southeast Asian theme.

As you can see in the foreground, there's Gynura sarmentosa or purple passion plant, which is native to the Philippines, and a species of Cycas which could (depending on the species) be native to the Philippines as well. In fact, 9 of the 70-odd species of Cycas are endemic to this country.

Of course, we go off script with a weeping cherry to the left and with the Cyperus papyrus near the footbridge. Another geographic anomaly would be the floating discs on display, but I can't fault the designer for adding them; these plants no doubt will capture the interest of novice plant lovers.

These are Victoria amazonica which, as you can gather from the species name, are new world plants, native to the Amazon basin. They are in the Nymphaeaceae family and are thus related to waterlilies, or Nymphaea.

Of course the differences among the genera are striking; water platters are not only far larger than waterlilies, but they have a scary-spiny underside. This helps the plant distribute its weight and indeed a Victoria leaf can support 70 pounds of load.

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