Jacobinia pohliana

Tropical America provided horticulture with truly vast opportunities and there is still much to be discovered in that territory. Many plants that were described and introduced into cultivation have since disappeared from the scene and await their comeback and it is practically certain that vast areas of this continent have yet to reveal countless treasures.

Members of the genus Jacobinia (often listed under the name Justicia) are, perhaps, likewise waiting to be rediscovered. More than 50 species with pretty flowers and attractive foliage have been described to date. Most were at one time cultivated and yet they gradually disappeared so that nowadays only the following two are generally found in nurseries and botanical gardens: Jacobinia carnea and the J. pohliana. Of the other species, occasionally one comes across a few with scant or nondescript flower clusters, such as J. pauciflora and J. ghies-breghtiana.

Jacobinia pohliana (syn. Cyrtanthera pohliana) native to Brazil, is very similar to J. carnea but is much larger in all its parts and also has denser foliage. In the wild the shrub grows to a height of more than 2 m (6 ft), but in cultivation it hardly reaches half that height. The leaves measure more than 20 cm (8 in) in length, the individual flowers are about 5 cm (2 in) long and slightly sticky. Unfortunately, they are not very long-lived and so jacobinia is used for decoration where the flowers are not a decisive element, such as in a combined dish arrangement.

Cultivation is not difficult. If the plants are grown in heavy, nourishing soil, watered regularly and in summer provided with fresh air and protection against sunscorch by light shading, then there is no need to fear failure. In winter they appreciate some rest but this is not a must; they will flower from May till October even without it. Propagation is easy by means of cuttings.

15. November 2011 by Dave Pinkney
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