Tuesday, October 14, 2008
I only knew that this was a kind of Calathea, and after much searching, I finally got the right one (tip – try Google Image instead of all the taxonomic databases!). It’s a Calathea lutea. There are some photos from a Malaysian here, and A Neotropical Savanna has some detailed information – apparently it is native to South/Central America (for example, Costa Rica), and the leafs can be used to cook tortillas in! Over here, banana, bamboo and pandanus leafs are often used to cook things in.
Apparently, this branch of the Marantaceae family are also known as ‘prayer plants’ because the leaves fold up at night. I never really noticed this, but now that it’s mentioned it makes sense, I’ll have to check it out though.
The red part of the ‘flower’ is a ‘bract’, and the little yellow flower is, well, a flower :)
They are useful as shade along the front fence and have no problem with direct sunlight – they are often used in landscaping around buildings and roads. Ours do need a lot of regular pruning to avoid unsightly dying and dead leaves. I reckon it probably needs a well fertilised soil, and will grow to about 1.5-2m – it spreads by rhizomes and has grown new clusters easily enough.
Oh and, by the way, meet Gambit :)