WREN - Wester Ross Environment Network
 

Montbretias

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This is a good time of year to take a closer look at the montbretias naturalized locally. Thanks to their resistant corms, these iris-like plants with fiery-orange flowers can escape from gardens to establish persistent - and conspicuous - colonies on road verges.

In fact, there is some research needed on these which local observers could help with. Montbretias first came to British gardens in the mid-1800s as species from South Africa (then classified in the genus Montbretia, hence their common name, but today classed in the genus Crocosmia). These days we mainly grow C. × crocosmiiflora, hybrids derived from two such species, C. aurea and C. pottsii ... but there seems a good chance that some of the colonies in West Ross are in fact the parent C. pottsii, possibly naturalized from plants introduced hereabouts in Victorian times.

C. pottsii has smaller flowers borne along a relatively straight stem; the flowers have a narrow base, then expand abruptly into a wide perianth tube; the tepal tips tend to point fowards or only curve outwards weakly; and the stamens and pistils are usually held within the flower.

      

C. × crocosmiiflora, on the other hand, has larger flowers borne on zigzag stems; a more evenly funnel-shaped flower-tube; the tepal tips are widely splayed;and the stamens and pistils usually protrude from the mouth of the flower.

 

Duncan Donald, local Recorder for the Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland (BSBI), would like to hear from you which of these you find growing in the area. You can contact him at 16 Midtown of Inverasdale, Poolewe, Wester Ross IV22 2LW or by e-mail at croft16@btinternet.com

 

 

WREN would like to thank the following organisations for their support:
Scottish Natural Heritage
The European Agriculture fund for Rural Development. Europe investing in rural areas
Leader
RSPB
The Highland Council
The Scottish Government

Tom Forrest (Chairman) chair@wr-en.co.uk

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