Montag, 16. April 2012

Plant of the Day (April 16th, 2012) - Microcachrys tetragona Hook F.

Today's “Plant of the Day” is Microcharys tetragona Hook F. from the Podocarpaceae family. It's a monophyletic species and the only member of the Genus Microcharys. In Germany, this plant is known as “Maulbeereibe” (Mulberry yew) and in English as "Strawberry Pine" or “Creeping Pine (however, “Creeping Pine” is the common name of many, small conifers from different families).

M. tetragona - habius

It's a small, evergreen shrub, which reach heights between 0,2 and 20 metres. The slender branches are long and whip-like, while the green, scale-like leaves are arranged in four rows around the four-angled branches. This leaves are very durable and remain for many years at the shoot. Their margin is cilliated.

M. tetragona - female cones

M. tetragona is monoecious, so we've male and female “cones” at the same plant. In both cases, the flowers are located at the end of the shoots. Male “cones” are egg-shaped and very small (only 3 millimetres) with twenty stamens per “cone”. Female “cones” are a little bit longer (6 to 8 millimetres) and also egg-shaped. They have a reddish colour.
In both cases, the “cones” are fleshy, so they are no real cones, which are woody. In Botany, such a structure is also called Strobilus.

M. tetragona - habitus

The anatomic features of the species are also the reason for its name. “Microcharys” is Grecian and means “small catkins”, which alludes to the small, upright “cones”. “Tetragona” means “four-angled” and is an allusion to the branches.

This species is endemic to Tasmania and grows in the mountainous and alpine regions in the West of the Island. It's very undemanding toward the soil and can grown on loam or sand.. However, it requires a moist ground for optimal growing conditions.

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