All about cycas and their growth

COLLAGUE PORTADA 2 Team Canarius | Wednesday May 24th, 2017 |

By its appearance, most cycads look like palm trees. In fact, they are considered pseudo-palms, but they belong to a different family. The genus Cycas is part of the Cycadaceae family, exotic plants from warmer parts of Asia and Oceania. They do not produce flowers, but cones, much like pine trees.

They are plants of great antiquity that have conserved very well their characteristics, so much that some consider them living fossils and speak of them like plant of the immortality. The truth is that Cycads are modern plants that are still evolving and speciating like any other plant, but they just kept their “primitive” architecture.

Slow growth

cycas-edentataOne of the outstanding characteristics of these plants is their growth. Many Cycas species grow very slowly, they need patience but their maintenance is simple and require few resources. All of them love drainage, none of them loves frost. Little fertilizer is required because they have some special algae living in their “coralloid roots” that fix air nitrogen to the soil, so cycads literally make their own fertilizer from thin air.

However, it is advisable to take care of the spot where they are planted. None of them loves direct sunlight when young, but once they get older some species need full sun while some others need some shade.

Read carefully about each species and see where they are from: some of them can take some frost, while some others are strictly tropical. A few species evolved in the Australian desert. They usually have blueish leaves and they can also be deciduous in the dry season, staying as resting stumps for months.

Thick roots …  good for pots!

When you buy the typical 3-5 years old plant from us, you will see that young plants have thick deep roots like carrots (and also “coralloid roots” like corals !). In turn, adult plants have rather superficial roots that do not go too deep.

So, it is important that pots are deep and with bottom drainage. An excess of water damages the cycas, so drainage and moderate watering are key. But adult plants can live for eons in 40-50 cm deep pots, so many collectors living in cold climates choose to grow them in large pots that will be kept indoors during the colder months.

 cycas-micholitziiWith age, most Cycas species will generate a trunk, also called the caudex, reminiscent of palm trees and long, rather stif, feather leaves, like palms. Some of them are “trunkless” because they have a low subterranean stem, so leaves just come beautifully out of the soil.

 Plants will become sexually adult after about five to fifteen years from its birth. A cycad will never set any flowers – they are “gymnosperms” and, when the love bells are ringing, female specimens will produce a pineapple-shaped inflorescence containing macrospores. The males will give longer, thinner, usually upright cones, undoubtely “manny-looking”, often spreading some yellow pollen from their microsporophylls.

At this point it is important to remember the new cycads from China – Cold Hardy. If you want to know more about it, click here.

Due to their slow growth, resistance to neglect and low maintenance, they are perfect plants for gardening and also decoration.

Diversity of Cycas in our online store

In Canarius we have a wide offer of cycas, adapted to the tastes and needs of each plant collector. We do not sell weakish seedlings: all our plants usually spend three years in the nursery before going to the shop. Here we mention a few species, but please check in our store what is available.

  • Cycas hainanensis, a fast growing species originating in the mountain forest of Hainan Island, China.

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  • Cycas panzhihuaensis, from inland China, is one of the cold-hardiest. It has stiff, bluish leaves and can take some hard frost that other species can’t handle.

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  • Cycas tanqingii from Yunnan, China and northern Vietnam. It has a sturdy trunk with long dark green leaves, coated by a fuzzy red velvet.

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  • Cycas micholitzii, with a low short trunk and beautiful bipinnate leaves, that spread and split like a fern.

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Are they are expensive?

Well, they are not cheap! They are slow plants, with a very slow germination process and seeds are usually hard-to-find. Some species are faster than others and some seeds are cheaper. As the rest of exotic plants, in our online store you can find varieties adapted to the pocket of each customer. Cycads are hard to kill and will gain size through the rest of their (and your) life. Many of them will live longer than us.

 Old specimens can reach high prices of 1000’s of euros, but anybody can start with a young Cycas panzhihuaensis or Cycas hainanensis  which is affordable and will grow with time.

Endangered and protected?

Quite a few species of Cycas are in the IUCN red list of threatened plants. Some are exceedingly rare and critically endangered. Only a few are widespread.The genus Cycas as a whole is protected by the CITES international laws, but it is listed in the appendix CITES II, which is a milder level than the CITES I appendix, which includes the highly protected species of Encephalartos and others.

Canarius is FULLY LEGAL! All our plants have been started by us from seeds with official papers and we are registered as CITES producers. If you are not in the European Union, we will prepare a special CITES Export Document when we ship these plants. Yes, buying from us is a help to preserve the species!

Why choose Canarius to buy cycas and cydad? Find out here!

The attraction of showy flowers

20 Team Canarius | Thursday April 27th, 2017 |

Some flowers have the ability to attract animals to carry out the so-called pollination, and those are the showy flowers. Through a simple process, they allow seeds and fruits to be produced, thus becoming exclusive flowers that everyone wants to get.

In many cases, the flowers themselves can emanate their perfume at certain times of the day to attract their dams, which can range from animals like birds and insects to meteorological phenomena like water or wind.

Different colors and shapes

Definitely showy flowers attract attention for its spectacular colors and unusual shapes. In our online shop, we have a wide variety, ideal for decorating gardens and parks.

Crinum Luteolum: Yellow flowered desert Crinum native to dry, hot areas in South Australia. It is closely related to the white-flowered Crinum flaccidum. It is a beautiful compact plant, and it is rare in cultivation.

Koehneria Madagascariensis: A peculiar plant native of Madagascar with pink flowers that symbolize its “blood”. Koehneria belongs to the family Lythraceae and its spectacular color attracts insects for pollination.

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The last claim

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Amorphophallus titanum has managed to steal the heart of the lovers of rare plants.

This herbaceous plant became considered as the “largest flower in the world” at the University of Bonn (Germany) with a height of 2.74 meters in height and even got Guinness awards.

Original from Indonesia, it is also known as the “corpse flower” because of its particular smelly odor with which it attracts pollinating insects.

In fact, it is this foul odor that attracts pollinating insects to make pollen exchange and reproduce.

Its flowering is almost non-existent, since it only occurs three or four times throughout its life.

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In Canarius we are lucky to have the Crinum Lavrani, considered as the most wanted species within the range of showy flowers.

Its white and perfumed flowers fall vertically before opening and they do it from night until noon.

This herbaceous species from the low coastal forests of Madagascar appears mainly in the summer and its size ranges from 70 to 100 centimeters.

The exotic plants we have at Canarius are grown within greenhouses in different areas of Tenerife, where the use of chemicals is kept to a minimum. Some of our nurseries are completely organic, and others are energetically self-sufficient.

In our online store you can find all these types of showy flowers and many more, ¡Visit us!

The unusual world of Asclepiads and Stapeliads

21 Team Canarius | Monday April 10th, 2017 |

Odd and eccentric things always get our attention. This is what happens with the denominated asclepiads, a group of plants with almost 3,000 members, chiefly distributed in warm climates. They are perennial herbs, twining shrubs, lianas or rarely trees but notably also contain a significant number of leafless stem succulents, named stapeliads.

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Their flowers are especially eye-catching for their beauty or for their unusual shapes. They often show unusual shapes such as starfish, chinese lanterns or spiders. They are often scented, and a source of nectar for some insects like bees, beetles, butterflies and more. A few species produce stinky flowers and attract flies as pollinators.

Asclepiads used to be a botanical plant family, but in the year 2000, the Asclepiadaceae family ceased to exist and since then asclepiads are considered a subfamily of the larger plant family Apocynaceae. The technical name of this subfamily is Asclepiadoideae.

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The genus Hoya includes some of the most popular asclepiads among collectors.Hoyas are tropical climbers and epiphytes with showy umbels of fragrant flowers.

Some are cool-growers, native to high-elevation areas, while some other Hoya love hot tropical conditions.

One of them is Hoya Obovata, one of the Hoyas for Northern climates. Easy blooming and cool-hardy.It has beautiful round, glossy leaves and well shaped , long-lived, white blossoms.

The butterfly plant is the “true” Asclepias

asclepias-curassavicaThe genus Asclepias (without a D!) gives the name to Asclepiads. Asclepias curassavica is commonly known as the butterfly plant. It is the perfect host plant for the caterpillars of the beautiful monarch butterflies (both the African and the American species).

The 15 cm -long leaves are arranged oppositely on the stems and its small flowers are yellow, red, white or orange. In general terms, species of Asclepias are herbaceous or shrubby, with woody parts and with or without cork and fibrous roots.

They are toxic but they are also known for their medicinal properties in the treatment of dental problems in some states of Mexico. Another similar butterfly-plant that we often offer in our website is Gomphocarpus physocarpus, also called the Balloon Plant because of its swollen fruits. Gomphocarpus is another asclepiad, a bit taller, with white flowers and the same monarch butterflies love their leaves.

Stapeliads are special Asclepiads

Within Asclepiads we find the “florally advanced” Stapeliads (= botanical tribe Stapeliae) with lots of stem succulent genera such as Huernia, Stapelia and Hoodia. They are remarkable for the complex mechanisms they have developed for pollination, similar to the unrelated Orchid family, especially in the grouping of their pollen into pollinia. The fragrance from the flowers is often disgusting and they attract flies as pollinators.

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They are native to different parts of Africa, to India and Myanmar. Two stapeliads are native to Europe: one is Caralluma burchardii, from the Canary Islands and one is Caralluma europaea, native to the drier South of Spain. Several species are endemic to the small island of Socotra off the Horn of Africa. The Arabian Peninsula, and most specifically the country of Yemen, contain another concentration of species. Several more are found in the drier parts of Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Nepal, and Myanmar.

At Canarius, we have a wide variety of Stapeliads: angollumas, huernias, carallumas, and quite a few ceropegias – not really from A to Z – but yes from Ceropegia ampliata to Ceropegia woodii. The local stock of mother plants is continuously increasing, so we will offer more and more species and local forms in the next months and years.

If you want to know more about our asclepiads, stapeliads or asclepias, go to Canarius online store, discover and see all the details.

DARK PURPLE SWEET POTATO – IPOMOEA MOLOKAI

22 Team Canarius | Thursday March 30th, 2017 |

The sweet potato is a food rich in nutrients, low in caloric content and highly beneficial to our health. This herbaceous and perennial plant has great nutritional and medicinal potential, which has turned it into main food in some cultures.

Many of the benefits of this food are vitamins A and C, protein, potassium, magnesium, iron or calcium. Ingredients like vitamin C, is ideal for the growth and repair of body tissues or maintenance of cartilage, bone and teeth.

Sweet potato Ipomoea Molokai

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In Canarius we have the sweet potato Ipomoea Molokai, a species of the family Convolvulaceae considered the darkest of all sweet potatoes, is from the Hawaiian island of Molokai.

It has spread rapidly across Europe and Asia and has a combination of brown, black, green, and violet colors that draws attention, despite its unsightly appearance.

In the case of the Ipomoea, it is also rich in flavonoids, has a great antioxidant, and anti-aging capacity. Preferably, we must locate it in a moist, hot, and bright place.

In general, sweet potatoes have benefits for our body like relief of the belly or inflammation in the joints

Nutritional and medicine use

In some cases, it has been described that the fresh leaves of the purple sweet potato help, in the early stages, in the treatment of cervical cancer. The formula, in this case, is its purple pigment, which is also found in other fruits and vegetables such as blueberries or red cabbage.

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In relation to its nutritional use, there is a small problem when it comes to cooking the purple sweet potato, that is that it loses many properties. Some of the options to keep all its benefits are to extract the pulp and to take it like soup or infusion.

In other cases, are also a good option as an extra ingredient in the well-known Japanese food, sushi, or in a salad combined with other healthy foods.

In our online store, you can buy the Sweet Potato Ipomoea Molokai and other varieties like Ipomoea Batata Catalina Forastera or Ipomoea Batata Margarita.

All of them contain nutrients necessary for the organism and help improve health thanks to its benefits and we ship them in different formats according to the season and state of growth. You might receive one potted plant, or one tuber, or three rooting cuttings wrapped in sphagnum. ¡Get them!

Canarius, diversity of exotic plants

24 Team Canarius | Tuesday March 21st, 2017 |

Plants and flowers have an important role in our homes decoration. From Canarius we offer a great variety of exotic plants of the Canary Islands, very difficult to buy in garden stores.

In addition, this type of plants are a claim among collectors for their rarity or ornamental qualities (lush foliage, colorful flowers or very unusual forms).

One of the peculiarities is their ability to adapt to temperature and humidity, in addition to purifying the air. However, this “autonomy” is limited, since we, while taking care of them, must consider parameters such as light, irrigation, fertilization or space.

On the other hand, they are ideal for decorating facades and gardens, choosing the right place, pruning, and cleaning or watering them.

“Exotic plants can be used both indoors and outdoors, depending on their characteristics”

THE GENUS CYCAS

At Canarius we offer Europe’s largest selection of the genus Cycas, who are considered “living fossils” whose study has allowed to understand the plants that are already extinct. This genus has about 90 species, mainly in Australia and Indochina, although we can also find them in other areas like Polynesia or Madagascar. No true Cycas occur in Africa and America (but yes other related “cycads” grow there!).

Similar in appearance to palm trees, the genus Cycas is characterized by having a woody stem without branches or little branched and with live foliage near the apex.

One of the most special and attractive is Cycas tanqingii, native to the forests of Yunnan, China and northern Vietnam. Its appearance of short trunk and open crown culminate in elegant bright leaves, with fuzzy reddish petioles.

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On the other hand we have  Cycas hainanensis, native to China and characteristic for its erect stem, leaves > 150 cm and 16 cm base. Each leaf is composed of 100-280 pairs of lanceolate flakes, with slightly curved margins, making this a spectacular plant.

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In our online store, you will find all these species and more of these kinds. Canarius offers a great selection of plants grown outdoors and with the sun of the Canary Islands. Our plants are never collected in the wild – all legally produced and marketed. All species follow legal CITES standards.

 If you want to know how cycas grow, click here and find out.