Sunday, August 19, 2012

The gouty Impatiens

In his wonderful book 'Malayan Wild Flowers', Murray Ross Henderson described Impatiens mirabilis as 'Gouty Impatiens' - a name which is not commonly used nowadays. Its appearance is certainly unlike the flowering potted variety we are used to. This is a plant of tree-like proportion and has a corky caudex which no doubt helps it to survive the seasonal dryness this habitat brings. It is found in the limestone karsts of Northern Peninsula Malaysia and Thailand.

Actually there are quite a few caudiciform species of Impatiens in this part of the world - see, for example, my previous entries here and here. Most, if not all, inhabit limestone karsts and have spindle-shaped bloom instead of the pansy-faced flowers we see in the garden centres. The presence of the quaint 'tail' distinguish them from other families of plants.

The true I. mirabilis have a long rachis from which only 1 or 2 flowers are borne at any one time. The colour may be yellow or pink - both appears to be variants of the same species. The flower always attract ants, which in turn attract geckos waiting for an easy snack.

Being highly specialised, these are not easy plants to grow and flower. Plants are often lost from foot rot but they do not seem to like dryness also. In their native habitat, they send out fine roots into subterranean crevices though the plant itself may be exposed to the elements.

1 comment:

Garden Sheds Regent said...

Wow! Nice page indeed. I really like those blooms. Glad that you shared this.

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