A newcomer to horticulturists was the appearance of Rojasianthe superba in 2006 in the entry garden of the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Pronounced (row-haas-e-anthy), this giant sunflower relative has no common name. The seeds of Rojasianthe were collected by a botanist on the slopes of a volcano in Guatemala, and sent to Dr. Don Mahony, Curator and Nursery Manager, to propagate. Currently, only SFBG and UC Berkeley grow this amazing specimen outside of its native habitat.
Notice the giant nodding white daisy flowers and the striking bracts behind that support them; the soft velvety, triangular leaves and the pendulous green seed heads. Rojasianthe seems to like filtered shade and regular watering, along with its forest companions in the wild: Monkeyhand, Montanoa and Alder trees, from Central America's cloud forests.
Cloud forests are high montane ecosystems in the sub-tropical areas of the world where moisture, mild temperatures and long hours of daylight combine to produce unique species. The San Francisco climate is perfect for growing many plants from these cloud forests. Sadly, these forests are highly endangered from local land use practices, climate change and increasing population. San Francisco Botanical Garden plays an important part in preserving many of these cloud forest species that are no longer found in the wild, that are endangered or soon will be.
||Shrub, Small Tree
||Rojasianthe requires year round water and can handle shade and part sun. Does not tolerate heat and will die back to the ground if it is exposed to 80 degree temperatures for 3 days or more.
||Fast grower when in the right 'spot' and provides an unusual 'sunflower' like bloom that would look great and be the talk of your garden. Great used as a filler with other plants or as a solo specimen.
||R. superba is extremely rare and only grows at SFBG and UC Berkeley outside of its native habitat.
The first bloom in the United States was March 2006 at SF Botanical Garden.
IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS:
Docents Joanne Taylor and Kathy McNeil
Profile Contributor: David Kruse-Pickler, Associate Curator