Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Ranunculus Baurii

Ranunculus baurii
    The ranunculus family has lots of stars in it--Ranunculus lyalii, the New Zealand native commonly called the Mt. Cook lily (although it is not a lily) being perhaps the brightest star of all.  Most who try to grow it fail, however,  and I will have a future entry about my experience with it. It's cousin, Ranunculus baurii, which hails from South Africa is a little easier to grow and just about as showy.
     This plant, which I originally heard about and got from the guys at Dancing Oaks Nursery, is grown mainly for its great foliage which is evident from the picture. The flowers are small yellow ranunculus type flowers, not that much different from the common weed ranunculus flowers, although they are held high over the leaves. You can see the stem for the flowers cutting across the upper right of the picture, although I did not include the actual flower in the picture.  The leaves, then, are the thing with this plant and unlike many plants with large round green leaves like this, these are not much bothered by slugs and they remain good looking the whole season.
     The Dancing Oaks guys, who have traveled a lot to South Africa, told me that they had seen this growing in its native haunts at relatively high elevations and in fairly moist conditions. This meant that the plant is fairly hardy, for a South African plant, but that it does require relatively moist conditions. I have now grown this plant for over 10 years in various places in my garden and I can attest to the fact that it does not do well over the long run if it gets too dry. While my garden has fairly moist conditions throughout, this plant suffered in the one year I was not able to care for my garden or do any watering. It survived after that year only in the moistest spots I had it.
     The plant you see in the picture is a self sown seedling which placed itself in the bed by my lioness sculpture right under the skirts of a small palm.  It has done well in that spot probably because the palm protects it from the cold, yet that is a bed with fairly moist soil. I have also grown this plant in full sun, but moist conditions where it has done well and I have grown it in the shade where it also did well until it got too dry there.
     I have seen on the internet what looks like forms of this with much more prominent veining on the leaves than my plants have, such as here and here. The one in the latter picture seems to be a form called MacOwan. I have not seen it for sale anywhere, but I certainly would like to get my hands on it.
     Although I originally got this plant from Dancing Oaks, they do not list it now.  Perhaps they have it at their nursery, but not as a mail order plant.  Fortunately, Ranunculus baurii is not hard from seed.  I have had it do some mild self seeding in the garden and have grown it from my own collected seed.  Seed is available from Silverhill Seeds, a South African seed specialist.  I have ordered seed from them and it is of good quality.

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