Hadley Osborn, El Cerrito, California
|R. arboreum "Self-topping" form U. C. Botanical Garden|
Beside the main lawn at the University of California Botanical Garden are two plants that have long been known locally as "self-topping" R. arboreum. The name alludes to the dense self branching habit they had when younger, but of course time has given them a more arboreal habit. Blooming along with and just in front of Magnolia campbellii they make a splendid show in spite of the fact that, last year at least, Steller's Jays were busily disfiguring trusses for their nectar.
The UCBG has several representatives of the species and these are labeled conservatively "Arboreum Series", though there is no real reason that they can not fit under the vast umbrella of plant variety included in the current concept of R. arboreum. Recent travelers to Nepal have brought back photos of high altitude forms which are almost dead ringers for the two UCBG plants. Apparently the forms we think of as typical are lower elevation ones that colonize the Himalayan foothills and crown the barrier ranges.
The immensely restrictive UCBG budget seldom allows for dead heading and the huge seed pods that form Nave been harvested by wise plants men for years. Though open pollinated, most appear true. Dr. Evans' photo is of a superb seedling of his own raising which duplicates its parent almost exactly, with the miraculous red globes being shown to particular advantage by the rich, substantial foliage.