Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Ethereal Blue Amaryllis

When I was a sophomore during my undergrad, I volunteered at the UW Botany Greenhouse. This place was my destination in between classes, during breaks and I might have skipped a lecture or two just so I could putter around and be surrounded by the tremendous collection of beautiful plants from around the world. From the arid desert house, the cool temperate rain forest and the tropical rooms, oh, of course, the research rooms were always filled with interesting projects and experiments.

One of my projects was my acquisition of seed from a rare and endangered plant. Dubbed as the "blue amaryllis", Worseleya procera (often and formerly referred to as W. rayneri) captivated me. After seeing these photos on a website, I learned what I could about these magnificent plants and when an opportunity to obtain seed from New Zealand presented itself. I jumped at the chance to grow this beauty.








Almost salivating and heart-stopping, isn't it??

I asked if I could use the greenhouse to sow the 6 seeds I acquired and tried various treatments and growing media based on the literature that was available at the time. Germination turned out to be a piece of cake:

Worselya Tray 2


Growing the plants on, however, was the challenge as reports always stressed specific cultural requirements and high losses following germination. The key to preserving any rare and endangered species is to attempt to recreate it's natural habitat. The "Empress of Brazil", as this bulb is often known, is found growing on full exposed, steep, rocky granite slopes of the Organ Mountains on the Atlantic rainforests of Brazil.

We carefully babied the young seedlings and potted them up gradually.

Worsleya seedlings 1

P1010140



Since I graduated, I feel kind of bad leaving these guys behind for the greenhouse staff to take care of, but the ideal conditions and occasional attention have resulted in plants I simply couldn't believe.

Riz with Worsleya

Worsleya procera plants
This plant could be on the verge of blooming. Boy, will I go ballistic when they do!!!!

6 comments:

  1. What a spectacular plant! (And it hasn't even bloomed yet!) Thanks for showing this...otherwise we'd never see it as it sits in a UW greenhouse.

    BTW, is an "arid dessert house" where they serve that dry chocolate torte, and you always need more tea to wash it down? lol

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  2. Crap, I'll fix that now, thanks d.k..

    Actually, the UW Botany Greenhouse is open to the public whenever the doors are unlocked. You are free to browse the collections just as long as you stay out of "Researchers Only" rooms.

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  3. Hello.
    Do you have any Worsleya procera for sale?
    Best regards, Serge

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  4. hello do you have any bulbs to sale ?
    this is my email andress ilmacca7@gmail.com

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  5. Hi

    My ten year old Worsleya has just flowered for the first time. I'm as proud as a first time father!

    Love the blog

    Silas
    reflectivegardener.blogspot.com.au

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