Cultivation (growing techniques): Podophyllum delavayi
Started by: John Humphries
A few words and pictures on this very unusual Chinese woodlanderGo to latest contribution by John Humphries, 10 April 2009, 17:09. Go to bottom of this page.
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I had my first introduction to this plant through Chen Yi, the Kaichen Nursery after reading about it in Dan Hinkley's book, "The Explorer's Garden", a MUST read for anyone remotely interested in woodland plants.
It does quite well in a pot and has been seen on the show benches a few times.
However I think they look at their best in the open garden in dappled shade.
Only trouble here is that they are so well camouflaged that it can become difficult to get a good photograph.
The above shows the new foliage coming through in April with a heavy brown mottling. This pales slightly to shades of green later in the season.
Young plants have this single leaf, while a more mature specimen will form a double leaf.
As yet I have never had seed, despite trying to cross pollinate plants by hand. So I have decided to try splitting the plant shown above in the clay pot. Time will tell whether this is a good choice as there seems to be a bit of conflicting information about on the subject of propagation.
On turning the pot out you can see thick fleshy roots mostly a few inches long but with an occasional one up to 15" long.
These being rather congested, I decided to break off a piece rather than risk the knife.
Having done that I noticed a very small bud on the middle section of rhizome and decided to experiment with a smaller section to see how this will develop.
This time using the knife as I had now shaken most of the compost out of the root mass. I should have results on this in a couple of months.
On thinking about this overnight I'm reminded that the name may be contested. Although the name in the trade is probably Podophyllum, you may find that the species name Dysosma may be applied. This is taken from the Flora of China and was the name we used for the plants on the Chelsea exhibit last year.
These are the three separate clones which I have tried to cross pollinate, as yet with no result, I'll try again this year.
I understand that they are self sterile hence the variation between clones, as shown here.
They have also been put into micropropagation successfully, however the result in this case will be self sterile identical clones....perhaps not the best result.
There is a clone in this country called Podophyllum 'Spotty Dotty' which you may find as quite a large number of plants were sold wholesale last year.
Tim Lever has had success in propagating this from slices of root, however I'm sorry to report that the one section I was nurturing in a relatively sheltered position outside has succumbed to this winter's hard frosts while my mature plants are beginning to show new growth despite being in exactly the same conditions.
Also please to report that my small bud on the picture above came into growth without problems.