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Polyspora - Growing Guide

Polyspora Growing Guide

These are a very exciting new genus of small evergreen trees and shrubs which have only been growing successfully in the gardens at Caerhays for just under 10 years. They are just starting to be available on our website but, as yet, only one or two species are being propagated. These are currently Polyspora longicarpa and P. axillaris var. tonkinense and even these names need verification. Tom Hudson has up to 10 different species or forms of Polyspora at Tregrehan Garden in Cornwall. Some he has wild collected himself in Vietnam. Others have come from China and Taiwan via other collectors. As you can imagine there is confusion about the naming of individual species and botanists are only just getting to grips with this. Gordonia axillaris may or may not be definitely renamed as a form of Polyspora one day. New Trees, the definitive book on recent introductions from the wild, mentions only one species of Polyspora and it is neither of the ones growing here. Hillier’s mentions another different one.

P. longicarpa has grown to 15ft at Caerhays as an erect strong sturdy single stemmed tree. It seems perfectly hardy and may one day be as popular in gardens as camellias? That is a claim which only time can refute!

All Polyspora have white (or sometimes flecked pink) camellia like flowers which first emerge in December and carry on through to at least late February. The leaves are larger than those of most camellias; longer and more pointed with some species having slightly curly leaves. After flowering large erect seed pods appear which contain three separate seeds. Imagine the excitement when we first managed to grow one from the seed on our original plant. Cuttings are very slow to root and we have been experimenting as to when exactly in the year to try them but early autumn seems to be the best bet up to now.

Once we can get this new genus of plants properly into production they will be a sensation in our gardens and something really new to admire in the winter months with early camellias.
 

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