Cyanastrum cordifolium

The Cyanastraceae family is a small and practically unknown group that is most closely related to the spiderwort and lily families. The single genus comprises several African species of herbaceous plants, their common characteristic being a shortened rhizomatous tuber.

The Cyanastrum cordifolium from tropical west Africa is cultivated only occasionally. In the wild it is found in the’undergrowth of tropical rain forests, where it grows on a thick layer of humus formed by decayed leaves. Nurseries do not offer this species yet and so it may be obtained only from a botanical garden or private collection. Cultivation, however, is not difficult and we would thus acquire for a centrally-heated home a plant that likes deep shade, and furthermore, tolerates a dry atmosphere very well. In general cyanastrum may be used in very dark corners where usually only Cissus antarctica or aspidistra could be grown successfully. Cyanastrum is also very suitable for dish arrangements where its decorative foliage soon forms a lovely, dense, dark green undergrowth which is an excellent foil for the brightness of variegated or attractively coloured cultivars of tropical plants.

The foliage is decorative both by its dark green colour and its striking deep veins. The inflorescence is relatively scant, the individual small pale blue flowers insignificant; despite this the plant is very attractive when in flower.

Cyanastrum should be grown in a mixture of peat and humusy loam and propagated by division.

15. November 2011 by Dave Pinkney
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