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In Bloom

Polyspora longicarpa Theaceae
 
Polyspora longicarpa at San Francisco Botanical Garden

Polyspora longicarpa by Kathryn Rummel

<em>Polyspora longicarpa</em> at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Joanne Taylor <em>Polyspora longicarpa</em> at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Joanne Taylor <em>Polyspora longicarpa</em> at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Joanne Taylor <em>Polyspora longicarpa</em> at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Mona Bourell <em>Polyspora longicarpa</em> at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Mona Bourell <em>Polyspora longicarpa</em> at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Mona Bourell <em>Polyspora longicarpa</em> at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Mona Bourell <em>Polyspora longicarpa</em> at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Mona Bourell
 

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Dr. Bruce Bartholomew, Senior Research Scientist at the Botany Department at the California Academy of Sciences, collected Polyspora longicarpa during a botanical expedition to Yunnan, China. Plants grown from seed he collected were planted in bed 7D in 1998. Today, one of those seeds has grown to a slender, 15-foot tree bursting with fragrant, white, camellia-like blossoms and long tapering leaves - truly a gorgeous sight! Walking along the south path from the main entrance and a short way around the central lawn, Polyspora is easily visible. It thrives growing under the protection of bigger trees, such as the Magnolia campbellii above it. Polyspora blooms in the Garden from November to March.

Polyspora (many seeds) longicarpa (long fruit) is in the camellia family, the Theaceae, and is a cousin of this more common relative. It is one of six species of Polyspora found in China. The blooms are large and solitary, with typically five crinkly, waxy petals. Its tough evergreen leaves are longer and are "entire," or smooth-edged, with a dominant midrib and pointed tip. Another closely-related species, Gordonia lasianthus, affectionately called loblolly bay by southerners, grows in the swampy pinelands of the southeastern United States. Its close similarity to the species in Asia is fascinating. How can loblolly bay be separated by the Pacific Ocean from its relatives in Asia? Botanists call this the theory of disjunction. When the world was younger the continents were joined, forming the supercontinent Pangaea. This large landmass slowly broke apart, the fragments forming our modern-day continents and carrying their plants, animals, and all other lifeforms along with them. As humans have migrated around the globe, plants, in their own way, have been doing the same for much longer. Continents slowly shift and move, and seeds fly by air, float by water, or hitchhike on or in animals away from their parents to potentially inhabit new ground. In this way, successive generations of plants can travel, surviving the rising and falling of mountains, waxing and waning of resources, and changing climate.

IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS: Text by Kathy McNeil. Photos by Joanne Taylor, Mona Bourell and Kathryn Rummel

Location

Polyspora longicarpa can be found
in the Temperate Asia Garden (Bed 7D);
the Camellia Garden (Bed 58C);
and the Nurserymen's Garden (Bed 49H).
Visiting Info >>
Map (Bed Numbers) >>

Profile

Scientific Name Polyspora longicarpa, formerly Gordonia longicarpa
Family Theaceae, the tea family
Plant Type Tree/Shrub
Environment Prefers moist, acidic soil, needs year-round watering, and cannot tolerate drought conditions.
Bloom Jan-March
Uses Several species of Polyspora are grown as ornamental plants for their flowers, produced in winter when few other trees are in bloom. They are, however, difficult to grow compared to the similar but generally smaller-growing camellias.
More Info SFBG also grows Polyspora macrocarpa and P. axillaris.
 
 
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Fitzroya cupressoides

Fitzroya cupressoides

January

Magnolia campbellii

Magnolia campbellii

January

Magnolia doltsopa

Magnolia doltsopa

February

Magnolia liliiflora

Magnolia liliiflora

March

Vireya Rhododendrons

Vireya Rhododendrons

April

Leucospermum spp.

Leucospermum spp.

May

Senna multiglandulosa

Senna multiglandulosa

June

Tagetes lemmonii

Tagetes lemmonii

July

Eucomis spp.

Eucomis spp.

August

Cuphea spp.

Cuphea spp.

September

Phyllocladus trichomanoides

Phyllocladus trichomanoides

October

Phyllocladus trichomanoides

Saurauia Madrensis

November

Pinus pseudostrobus

Pinus pseudostrobus

December

Magnolia dawsoniana

Magnolia dawsoniana

January

Magnolia campbellii 'Strybing White'

Magnolia campbellii 'Strybing White'

February

Magnolia laevifolia'Strybing Compact'

Magnolia laevifolia 'Strybing Compact'

March

Aristolochia californica

Aristolochia californica

April

Chlorogalum pomeridianum

Chlorogalum pomeridianum

May

Arbutus menziesii

Arbutus menziesii

June

Romneya coulteri

Romneya coulteri

July

Cistus sp.

Cistus sp.

August

Rosmarinus sp.

Rosmarinus sp.

September

Dahlia spp.

Dahlia spp.

October

Salvia cacaliifolia

Salvia cacaliifolia

November

Salvia cacaliifolia

Salvia microphylla
'Hot Lips'

November

Magnolia campbellii

Magnolia campbellii

January

Magnolia denudata

Magnolia denudata

February

Magnolia x veitchii

Magnolia x veitchii

March

Iris douglasiana

Iris douglasiana

April

Aesculus californica

Aesculus californica

May

Vaccinium ovatum

Vaccinium ovatum

June

Sambucus racemosa

Sambucus racemosa

July

Sequoia sempervirens

Sequoia sempervirens

August

Asarum caudatum

Asarum caudatum

September

Deppea splendens

Deppea splendens

October

Montanoa spp.

Montanoa spp.

November

Bidens sp.

Bidens sp.

December

Acer palmatum 'Sango kaku'

Acer palmatum 'Sango kaku'

January

Magnolia campbellii 'Darjeeling'

Magnolia campbellii 'Darjeeling'

February

Bomaria spp.

Bomarea spp.

March

Rhododendron occidentale

Rhododendron occidentale

April

Polystichum munitum

Polystichum munitum

May

x Chiranthofremontia lenzii

x Chiranthofremontia lenzii

June

Salvia leucantha

Salvia leucantha

July

Hydrangea seemannii

Hydrangea seemannii

August

Wollemia nobilis

Wollemia nobilis

September

Cyathea cooperi

Cyathea cooperi

October

Pinus radiata

Pinus radiata

November

Correa spp.

Correa spp.

December

Garrya elliptica

Garrya elliptica

January

Magnolia x soulangeana

Magnolia x soulangeana

February

Senecio glastifolius

Senecio glastifolius

March

Ribes spp.

Ribes spp.

April

Oxalis oregana

Oxalis oregana

May

Calandrinia grandiflora

Calandrinia grandiflora

June

Taxus baccata

Taxus baccata

July

Romneya coulteri

Romneya coulteri

August

Passiflora parritae

Passiflora parritae

September

Malvaviscus arboreus

Malvaviscus arboreus

October

Monterey Cypress

Monterey Cypress

November

Aloe arborescens

Aloe arborescens

December

Aloe plicatilis

Aloe plicatilis

January

Banksia seminuda

Banksia seminuda

February

Zantedeschia elliottiana

Zantedeschia aethiopica

March

Magnolia laevifolia

Magnolia laevifolia

April

Araucaria heterophylla

Araucaria heterophylla

May

Toxicodendron diversilobum

Toxicodendron diversilobum

June

Clarkia sp.

Clarkia sp.

July

Agapanthus

Agapanthus

August

Brugmansia

Brugmansia

September

Cedrus spp.

Cedrus spp.

October

Protea repens

Protea repens

November

Camellia sinensis

Camellia sinensis

December

Thujopsis dolabrata

Thujopsis dolabrata

January

Gordonia longicarpa

Gordonia longicarpa

February

Rojasianthe superba

Rojasianthe superba

March

Echium spp.

Echium spp.

April

Iris douglasiana

Iris douglasiana

May

Digitalis purpurea

Digitalis purpurea

June

Felicia amelloides

Felicia amelloides

July

Ceroxylon quindiuense

Ceroxylon quindiuense

August

Amaryllis belladonna

Amaryllis belladonna

September

Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba

October

Acer morrisonense

Acer morrisonense

November

Ilex aquifolium

Ilex aquifolium

December

Picea sitchensis

Picea sitchensis

January

Telanthophora grandifolia

Telanthophora grandifolia

February

Aeonium arboreum 'Schwartzkopf'

Aeonium arboreum 'Schwartzkopf'

March

Leptospermum Spp.

Leptospermum

April

Salvia gesneraeflora

Salvia gesneraeflora

May

Lavandula spp.

Lavandula spp.

June

Pelargonium

Pelargonium

July

Fuchsia paniculata

Fuchsia paniculata

August

Luma apiculata

Luma apiculata

September

Luculia

Luculia

October

Arbutus unedo

Arbutus unedo

November

Cycads

Cycad

December

Restionaceae

Restionaceae

January

Hellebores

Hellebores

February

Ceanothus

Ceanothus

March

Rhododendron

Rhododendron

April

Psoralea pinnata

Psoralea pinnata

May

Fremontodendron californicum

Fremontodendron californicum

June

Leucadendron argenteum

Leucadendron argenteum

July

Crocosmia

Crocosmia

August

Gunnera tinctoria

Gunnera tinctoria

September

Pellaea rotundifolia

Pellaea rotundifolia

October

Fuchsia boliviana

Fuchsia boliviana

November

Erica canaliculata

Erica canaliculata

December

Magnolia campbelli

Magnolia campbelli

January

Magnolia denudata

Magnolia denudata

February

Camellia

Camellia

March

Geranium maderense

Geranium maderense

April

Acmena smithii

Acmena smithii

May

Eschscholzia californica

Eschscholzia californica

June

Dendromecon harfordii

Dendromecon harfordii

July

Romneya coulteri

Romneya coulteri

August

Eupatorium purpureum

Eupatorium purpureum

September

Epilobium canum sp.

Epilobium canum sp.

October

Grevillea spp.

Grevillea spp.

November

Drimys winteri

Drimys winteri

December

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