Calotropis gigantea. ÝIvory plant, kapal-kapal, crown flower. Shrub, to 4 m tall, with waxy stems which produce a milky sap when cut. The leaves are obovate, are about 18 cm long and 12 cm wide; they are grey-green above and have a whitish powder below. The white flowers grow from the leaf axils, are star shaped, and are surrounded by a crown of 5 flesh lobes. According to Madulid, the plant is indigenous to Iran, Tibet and India and was probably introduced to the Philippines during the American period. It plays host to the
Canarium ovatum Engl. Pili. Marcotted. Obtained from Legazpi City. Indigenous to the Philippines. This tree grows to a height of 35 m, but I am told the marcotted forms, which I have, are dwarfs and will hopefully not be so imposing. The leaves are usually three- to four-paired, ending in a terminal leaflet. The small flowers grow in clusters and the fruit is ovoid, up to 5 cm long, and is smooth and black when ripe. The tree is long-lived (the owners of one tree in the Bicol region claim it is 200 years old) and can bear up to 24,000 fruit at a time. When freshly picked, the ripe whole fruit can be boiled and the soft thick pulp eaten as a vegetable or salad. The hard-shelled kernel is the well-known pili nut. The resin extracted from the bark is an export product and has both pharmaceutical and industrial uses. It is an ingredient in the manufacture of plasters, ointments, paints, varnish, sealants, lacquers, asphalt, water and fire proofing, linoleum, plastics and printing inks. The oil from both kernel and pulp is considered equal to olive oil in quality and is suitable for culinary uses. Info sources: http://www.bar.gov.ph/fruits/pilifp2.htm; Madulid.
My pilis are now about 4 years old. They have not fruited yet.
Catharanthus roseus, Vinca rosea, Madagascar periwinkle. Chichirica. I started out with 60 of these. Perennial shrub. Height: 30-60 cm, tends to flop. Produces almost continuous display of five-lobed flowers that are dark pink, pink, white or white with red rings. Poisonous. Prefers a sunny, well-drained location. Easily propagated from seeds; self-seeds freely. Dislikes too much water. Attracts butterflies. The vincaís flowering life can be prolonged by pruning when the stems grow too lanky and bear fewer flowers. However, at least in my garden, it is not long-lived and it really needs to be replaced by about the fifth month. However, they self-seed easily, making young plants continuously available.
Cassia alata L. Akapulco, bikas-bikas. Candle bush. This attractive but short-lived shrub is named for its flower buds which grow in a column and look like fat yellow candles each complete with a flame. It was introduced to other tropical areas from the Americas and is now widely considered a weed.
The leaves and sap contain a fungicide (an acid) which is effective against fungal infections such as ringworm, and is useful in soaps, shampoos and lotions. The plantís other chemical contents enable it to act as a laxative and to expel intestinal parasites. In Africa, the boiled leaves are used to treat high-blood pressure. In South America, the cassia is utilized to treat a wide range of ailments from stomach problems, fever, asthma to snake bite and venereal diseases. It is the food plant of some butterfly caterpillars. The plant recruits bodyguards against these caterpillars in the form of ants, which are attracted to the nectar produced by the ěextrafloral nectarinesî found near the base of the leaves. As a short-lived plant which grows commonly in damp wastelands, it helps to colonize these areas and pave the way for the regeneration of growth. All in all, an extremely valuable plant.Ý
The self-seeded plant in my garden has the yellow ěcandlesî, but no distinct orange ěflamesî. It is growing strongly in an area that cannot be called damp by any standards. It has been flowering in periods when the wild plants in Sta Rosa have not been in bloom. It is, for instance, in bloom now (March 10; April 19; May 22; November; December).Ý An imposing plant, it provides a pleasant contrast to the feathery looking plants around it.
Cestrum nocturnum. Dama de noche; Queen of the Night. This not very pretty shrub grows quite quickly.Ý It should not be planted near drains or filters as these can get blocked by the slender flowers which fall profusely. It blooms several times a year. In my garden it has flowered in January, March, May, June. The small greenish flowers have a powerful fragrance which is released at night, hence the plantís name.
Pruning to keep its size within bounds seems to encourage it to flower again. Propagation is by cuttings.
Chamaedorea seifrizii.Ý Seifrizii. Reed palm. I started with nine of these in pots.Ý An elegant clump-forming palm with cane-like stems, this is an ideal pot plant and houseplant. It has been said to grow quickly to a mature height of 2 m and to seed early. It likes shade and can be easily propagated by division. The black seeds on dark orange stems make a striking contrast. The books say that it should be grown in a shaded, sheltered courtyard or border.
My palms were first placed in an area that gets the full force of the sun. Naturally, they did not do well. I have had them moved to a shadier place; they are now greener of leaf and have several sideshoots and are growing taller.Ý
Chrysalidocarpus lutescens.Ý Palmera. I started with 6 of these planted along the garden wall.Ý
Citrus aurantiifolia. Dayap; lime: variegated cultivar. From India to the Malay Peninsula to the Philippines. Propagated from seeds or from cuttings. It is known as a host plant for several species of butterflies: its leaves provide food for caterpillars. I had a choice to make in the early days of my garden:Ý discard the caterpillars and keep the leaves or lose the leaves and wait for butterflies. I chose the caterpillars and, as a result, my dayap is often shorn of leaves, as it was in December 2004. The hot months of April and May seem to give it a respite and allow the leaves to grow.
Citrus maxima. Lukban, pomelo, suha. My suha is still only about 50 cm tall and has not fruited, but it already plays host to the lime butterfly. I have seen its caterpillars on it as well as its chrysalids. In early-January 2005 we were treated to the sight of two lime butterflies emerging from their pupas and flying away after some minutes. At the same time, a fat green and white caterpillar was eating away at the leaves; by 17 January, this too had turned into a pupa.Ý As with the dayap, April and May give it a rest from caterpillars, allowing the leaves to grow.
Citrus microcarpa. Kalamansi.Ý In mid-January 2005, this was populated by about 15 caterpillars. These were obviously not those of the lime butterfly. Iíll have to wait for the butterflies to emerge to identify what they are. My plant then was about 40 cm tall and had not fruited yet. It sprung a full coat of leaves in April-May.
Citrus microcarpa. ÝKalamansi, variegated form. This is supposed to bear fruit most of the year, but my plant did not flower between June 2003 and May 2004. It fruited fairly well for some months since then; by December 2004 there were only a few tiny fruit.Ý The fruit is larger than the common kalamansi and, like the leaves, it is variegated.Ý This plant always keeps its full complement of leaves and is obviously not a favourite of caterpillars. Flowering timidly by mid-January 2005, the plant was fruiting quite well by April-May.
Clerodendrum macrosiphon. Do-re-mi plant; musical note shrub. I started with 6 of these. Shrub to 2-3 feet. Indigenous to New Guinea and the Philippines. Grows in primary forests at low and medium altitudes. The short-lived (they fall in two to three days) white flowers resemble musical notes in the bud and open to small flowers with red stamens. The plant blooms intermittently throughout the year, though January-February seems to be a dormant period. Slowly coming into flower in early March 2004. I thought I had lost these plants, but by December 2004 they were flowering again.
Clerodendrum philippinum, C. chinense. Shrub, 1.2-2.4 metres tall, with dense terminal heads of fragrant (often sterile) white-pink-mauve flowers which look like tight nosegays. The leaves are large (6-10 cm long), opposite and simple with variable margins. Thrives in moist and fertile soil. While itÝ tolerates shade, it prefers sunny locations. It can be invasive and is considered a potential environmental weed in some countries. Propagated by root suckers. Info source: Csurhes, 1998. Ý
My plant had disappeared by December 2004. Perhaps it was too much in the shade? I bought another plant from the Flower Box in April 2005. I was told to put it in the sun. The once magnificent specimen has since been subject to daily bouts of wilting under the strong sun, reviving later in the day with profuse watering. I have now moved it to where it gets only the morning sun. Letís see how it does there.Ý
Clerodendrum quadriloculare. Bagawak. I started with 2 of these. This tall shrub or small tree, growing to a height of 5 m, is a Philippine native. The large paired oval leaves are dark green above, reddish purple underneath. The flowers are produced in large showy clusters around 25 cm in diameter, each with a narrow pink tube about 7 cm long, ending in five white spreading petal lobes. Nectar-bearing, they are attractive to butterflies. The plant produces numerous seeds and suckers profusely from the roots. The fruit is ellipsoid and is up to 1.5 cm in length. Considered an invasive weed in some countries.Ý
My plants have grown quite vigorously, each throwing up numerous trunks. However, most of their leaves dropped when they started flower in late November 2003; I have no idea why happened. I pruned the plants to three main trunks each when flowering ceased in March, and have kept these trunks free of lower branches. In mid-December 2004, my plants still had their handsome leaves and had flower buds, but these were still tiny. Does this plantís flowering pattern differ from year to year? The future will tell. At the end of December, I noticed that the clerodendrum at Mingís Garden in Tagaytay had just come into full bloom, with its full complement of leaves; only two of the panicles on my plants had flower tubes that had reached their full size. By mid-January 2005, one of my plants was in full bloom; the others had just started putting out flower buds.
Clerodendrum thomsonae. Known as Bleeding Heart in the Philippines. Glorybower. A native of West Africa, this slender woody vine is one of the few flowering vines for the shade. It has clusters of brilliant red flowers surrounded by white inflated calyxes, which are its most distinctive ornamental feature. The flowers are nectar-bearing and are attractive to butterlifes. It has dark green ovate leaves 7-10 cm long and soft, slightly wooden stems. It likes somewhat dry conditions and at least partial shade. The flowers should be picked off when faded, and the vine should be pruned as needed. It is propagated from suckers or green wood cuttings.
My plant blooms several times a year, but it carried no flowers for several months until April 2004. In general, this plant performed poorly in 2004. Perhaps it receives too much light where it is now, and the gardener may be watering it too frequently. I will have to think about transplanting it next year. Photo source:
Clerodendrum ugandense. Blue butterfly. This scandent shrub with pale and dark blue flowers grows tall quite rapidly. It is propagated by air-layering or from woody cuttings. It blooms on and off throughout the year. It was not too floriferous in the rainy month of July 2003, but came into its own in the drier month of November. I pruned two of my plants to about 45 cm from the ground in February-March 2004 as they were getting scraggly. ÝHad a disappointing flowering performance in November 2004.
Clitoria ternatea L. Blue pea vine, pukinggan. I bought 2 plants for P40 from one of the nurseries in Barangay Maharlika, Tagaytay. The leaves consist of five leaflets with short petioles. The flowers are described as solitary bright blue flowers with yellow markings on white centres. They are borne in great numbers throughout the year. The pod is flat, linear, green and up to 10 cm long.
The plant growing in my garden bears deep-blue flowers of five petals of more or less the same size. This makes the flowers quite different from the papillonate flowers usually shown for C. ternatea. Each petal has a yellowy streak on white centres in front and a wider white streak at the back. I reckon I have what is referred to by some as a ědoubleî variety of the blue pea vine.ÝÝ
The plant can get leggy very quickly, but pinching will keep it bushy. With pruning, it can be grown as a shrub on a single trunk, but perhaps it will not flower as profusely. C. ternatea likes rich, moist soil and full sun to partial shade. It is propagated from seeds and cuttings. To start the seeds, soak them in water for 3-4 hours before sowing; they germinate in 7-14 days, and the plants bloom in six weeks. Cuttings root readily in moist soil in the shade. Can be planted in hanging baskets.
A native of Ternate in the Mollucas, C. Ternatea is now grown as an ornamental, for fodder and as a medicinal plant. The roots and seeds have laxative effects and the leaves are used to relieve pains in the joints. The bright blue flowers are used to dye rice and cloth in Malaysia; and the leaves to dye food. Info source: www.plantoftheweek.org; www.barbadine.com. ÝI have successfully grown numerous plants from cuttings. The first started to flower by March 2004 and were still flowering in December. Ý
Cordyline fruticosa; Cordyline terminalis. I have the cultivar that is called the ëPink Tií in the Philippines. I started with 20 of these. Tungkod pari. Baston de San Jose. C. terminalis is a slender palm-like shrub that can grow to a height of 3 m. It has a single, unbranched stem, with the leaves crowded at the end of stem. It bears flowers in panicles from the leaf cluster, which are followed by berry-like fruit. Several cultivars of varied leaf sizes, shapes and colours have recently been introduced to the Philippines. Most need the sun to develop their full leaf colours, though some prefer the shade. The colours become more intense during the drier, cooler months that follow the rainy season. The ti plant is propagated from tip cuttings, cane cuttings (which may be placed vertically or horizontally in the growing medium), from seeds or by root layering.
Crossandra infundibuliformis. Common crossandra. I started with 49 of these; after about two years, I have only three growing now (probably self-seeded plants: see below). Shrub to 90 cm tall. Native to India, tropical Africa and Madagascar. Recently introduced to the Philippines. The yellow-orange flowers are nectar-bearing and are attractive to butterflies. Propagated by stem cuttings. All those planted by the front wall of the house, which gets the full sun through most of the day, had died by 3 June 2003. Replaced with Dracaena ëSong of Thailandí. ÝThose growing by the wall and shaded by taller plants have reseeded themselves and are now in flower (December 2004).
Cymbopogon citratus. Lemon grass, tanglad. I have both the Philippine and the Thai varieties. To me the Thai variety has the more delicate scent and flavour. Madulid and internet sources give both varieties the same scientific name. Both are clump-forming grasses that grow to 1.8 m. Their flowers are large, compound panicles with loose slender branches. They are propagated by division and are said to be native to Sri Lanka and southern India.
The Thai lemon grass does best in full sun, and likes plenty of water and a periodic light dose of fertilizer. It has a fragrant lemon scent and delicate flavour. It is used to flavour many Asian and Thai dishes. In addition it is said that it can be used as a diuretic, and as an anti-flatulence, anti-flu and antimicrobial agent. It is cultivated commercially for its essential oil, which is used to scent soaps, detergents, and air fresheners, and from which compounds are isolated to produce commercial vitamin A and an artificial violet perfume. But the most practical home uses are culinary and medicinal.
The fastest way to get a good crop is to divide a clump. Cut back the top, dig it up, and pry it apart. A fist-sized cluster of cut-back shoots with roots intact makes a nice division. L. citratus can also be grown from seed.
My plant had grown to full height and was bearing flowers in December 2004. My family has used it (boiled, rather than merely steeped, in water) as a remedy for colds and flu. We are now all believers in its beneficial properties.
Cyperus papyrus. Egyptian paper plant; the bulrush of the Bible. Has been used for making paper since ancient times. Propagate by dividing overcrowded clumps: with a sharp knife, cut partly through the root ball from top down, just deep enough to allow fingers and thumbs to be inserted between the roots to pry the tangled mass apart. Possible source: Cigaralís Garden, Barangay Bucal, Calamba, 0919 587 2517, ask for Domingo Cigaral. My plant is now about 2 m tall.
Cyperus alternifolius. Umbrella palm. Can grow up to 4 feet tall. Propagation: as above. Also from flower heads: cut off a flower head, retaining half an inch of stem and trim bracts back to about half their length; put the stem in water or in damp sand. Possible source: Cigaralís Garden, Barangay Bucal, Calamba, Laguna. 0919 587 2517, ask for Domingo Cigaral.
Cyrtostachy renda. Red palm; sealing wax palm. This is a medium-sized tufted palm, which means that it produces offshoots and grows as a clump of slender trunks, each with its own crown of leaves. It has bright red leaf sheaths, which appear down nearly the full length of the trunks as well as along the leaf stalk. The leaves are stiff and feather-shaped, and a fully grown clump is not too large for a small garden. Rises to about 6 m. The red palm is said to be easy to grow provided it gets a lot of water and the full sun. Propagation by offshoots. (Idea for planting: combine with bromeliads with a touch of red in their leaves)