What to plant in May

The following is a list of vegetables and herbs that you can plant in May in Sydney, a temperate zone (just click on the link for the growing guide for each vegetable):

Plant of the Month – The fascinating flowers of the Poinsettia – (Euphorbia pucherrima)

IMG_20200425_121540-Poinsettia flowers2 The popular poinsettia, Euphorbia pulcheririma, is part of one of the largest genera of flowering plants, Euphorbia, which has approximately 2,000 species. It is is a native of Central America and Mexico.

While the modified red leaves make it a popular Christmas plant, it is the delicate flowering stuctures that make it so interesting.

The flowering display is composed of many individual cyanthia of male and female flowers surrounded by modified leaves called bracts that are arranged in rings around it. The bracts are most often flaming red but can be orange, pale green, cream, pink, white, or marbled.

The flowers of poinsettia are pseudanthia or inflorencesnces which are actually multiple flowers in a single structure. This is the cup shaped cyanthia, made up of fused bracts that contains multiple male flowers and one female flower within it. Neither male nor female flowers have petals.

The yellow liquid-filled structures attached to each cyanthia are nectar glands filled with nectar to attract pollinators.  The emerge as light green and then mature to bright yellow.

Emerging from each cyanthia are red filaments, the stamens, supporting yellow anthers that are the male flowers (the bi-lobed anthers produce and release pollen) Each lobe is encrusted with yellow pollen grains. The images below shows the male flowers that have emerged from the cyanthias and you can see the male flowers encrusted with pollen and the mature yellow nectar glands. Enlarge to see more detail.

IMG_20200425_110340-Poinsettia male flowers

IMG_20190521_122055-Poinsettia male flowers1

When the male flowers have finished, the female flowers emerge from the cyanthia. The swollen ovary emerges with its divided stigma (where pollen needs to be deposited if they are to fertilize the flower), In this image you can see the different stages of the development of the female flowers. The swollen ovaries of the female flowers, the stile that connects the two and its distinctive stigma above, just barely protruding from the cyanthia. Also there are two fully emerged female flowers . Enlarge to see more detail.

IMG_20200430_134637-Poinsettia female flowers

Euphorbia pulcheririma makes a stunning garden tree that can grow to 4m and with its colourful modified bracts and flowers gives colour to the winter garden.

IMG_20140605_120530
This Poinsettia is 25 years old and 4m tall and was grown from a 30 cm cutting.

 

 

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