February 8
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Plant Genus of the family Solanaceae

Genus Description Cultivation
Brachyglottis This genus of about 30 evergreen trees, shrubs, climbers and perennials is part of the large daisy family. They are found in New Zealand and Tasmania, Australia, in habitats ranging from coastal to alpine. Most were previously included in Senecio. They are usually grown for their attractive gray foliage which is covered in white or buff down in varying degrees. Generally the yellow or white daisies are of little significance but in a small number of species are quite showy. CULTIVATION: Most species prefer a well-drained soil in a sunny situation and many are tolerant of harsh coastal conditions. In cool-temperate climates the more tender species are cultivated in the greenhouse and the hardier species against a sunny wall. Prune to maintain a compact shape. The flowerheads can be removed if foliage effect is of prime importance. Species are propagated by seed or half-hardened cuttings in autumn, and cultivars by cuttings only.
Brachylaena This genus has 23 species of shrubs and trees and is found in Africa from the tropics to South Africa and also in Madagascar and the Mascarene Islands. They have rather leathery, lance-shaped to oblong leaves that sometimes have toothed edges and are often felted on their undersides. The compound flowers are usually white to creamy yellow and are followed by coarsely hairy or spiny seed heads. CULTIVATION: Most species are completely intolerant of frost and demand warm subtropical to tropical conditions. They prefer light well-drained soil with ample moisture during the growing season. Propagation is from seed, cuttings or by removing the natural layers that sometimes develop.
Brachyloma Found in western and southern Australia, including Tasmania, this is a genus of 7 species of heath-like shrubs closely related to Leucopogon. They are usually erect plants with wiry stems and small pointed elliptical leaves that closely hug the stems. Their flowers are very small, usually less than 1?4 in (6?mm) long, and are narrowly urn-shaped to tubular with flared tips. CULTIVATION: The smaller species are attractive, dainty little plants and it is surprising that they are not more widely cultivated as they would be well at home in rockeries or alpine trough gardens. They prefer moist, humus-rich, well-drained, slightly acidic soil with a position sheltered from the hottest summer sun. Propagation is from seed, small half-hardened cuttings or layers.
Brachysema This genus in the Fabaceae family consists of around 16 species, which occur mainly in Western Australia, often on sandy infertile soils, with around 3 species from northern Australia. They are mostly small shrubs or prostrate creepers with opposite or alternate simple leaves, or with leaves reduced to small scales on flattened stems. The flowers are pea-shaped and mainly red in color, although some can be cream, yellow-green or blackish, and are attractive to nectar-feeding birds. The prostrate species make useful ground covers. CULTIVATION: Most species grow under a range of soil and climatic conditions; a sunny, free-draining soil will suit most. Limited periods of dry soils can be tolerated. Fertilizers high in phosphorus should be avoided as these can kill or injure these plants. Most species respond well to pruning after flowering. Propagate from seed, which has a hard seed coat and needs treatment; cuttings of firm new growth will strike easily. Propagation can also be by layering.
Brahea This is a genus of 12 species of attractive small to medium-sized fan palms allied to Washingtonia, from Mexico and its nearest neighboring countries of Central America. They mostly come from dry rocky habitats, growing in open woodland and low scrub. A few species lack an above-ground trunk, but most have a rough-surfaced single trunk topped by a compact crown of fronds. The flattened frond stalks are often edged with spines. The frond blades are fan-shaped, much like those of washingtonias but smaller. Flowering branches emerge from among the frond bases, exceeding the leaves in length in some species, sometimes more than twice as long and gracefully arching. The white to yellowish flowers are tiny but crowded densely onto spike-like branchlets. Fruits are approximately the shape and size of olives and mostly ripen to blue-black; some are edible. Some Brahea species were rather fancifully named ?Hesper Palm? by the famous American horticulturist Liberty Hyde Bailey on account of their far western location in Baja California, like the Hesperia of the ancients. CULTIVATION: They are sun-loving palms that are easily grown in most warm-temperate to subtropical climates, though achieving best growth and appearance where summers are hot and dry. Most will tolerate light frosts. Soil should be well drained but with adequate subsoil moisture and moderately fertile. As for washingtonias, dead fronds may be trimmed off but the old stalk bases will adhere to the trunk indefinitely. If left untrimmed the dead fronds form a thatch or ?skirt? beneath the crown. Propagate from seed, which germinates readily in less than 2 months; early growth is often slow but may speed up after a trunk shows beneath the fronds.
Brownea Belonging to the caesalpinia subfamily of legumes, Brownea consists of 12 or more species of evergreen trees and shrubs from tropical America. It is allied to the Asian Amherstia and Saraca and shares with them large pinnate leaves that show a rather striking behavior: on new growth flushes, which may be quite large, the immature new leaves hang limply like bundles of rags, at first bronze-colored then turning cream (mottled bronze at an intermediate stage); finally the leaves straighten up and turn deep green. The flowers are grouped in heads that hang below the leaves. The species used as ornamentals are adapted for pollination by nectar-feeding birds and have showy dense heads of red, pink or orange flowers that point downward beneath a group of colored bracts; individual flowers are funnel-shaped with protruding stamens. The fruit is a large, flattened, woody pod. CULTIVATION: They require a tropical climate with ample summer rainfall but are rather slow growing even under ideal conditions. Grown for the beauty of their flowers and as shade trees, they are best suited to a lawn or courtyard with shelter from strong winds. The lower branches have a tendency to sag toward the ground and so it may be desirable to raise them on props to allow viewing of the spectacular flowerheads as well as enhancing the trees? shade value. Propagation is by seed if obtainable, by cuttings though these are slow and difficult to strike, or by air layering.
Brugmansia This genus in the family Solanaceae consists of 5 species of small trees or shrubs, all native to South America, particularly the Andes. All parts of the plant are poisonous, the seeds especially so, and ingestion can cause hallucinogenic effects; however, they are frequently grown for their large spectacular flowers. All have woody stems and a tree-like habit, which distinguishes them from the genus Datura, in which they were formerly included. They are characterized by large, fragrant, funnelform or tubular flowers with a 2 to 5-lobed cylindrical calyx, the flowers drooping, not erect as in Datura. The fruits are ovoid or elliptical. CULTIVATION: Brugmansias need a sunny protected position with no more than light frost. Any moderately fertile, free-draining soil is suitable. Plants are best trained to a single trunk by removing any competing leaders; branchlets should be shortened annually in late winter or early spring so as to thicken growth. Propagation is by soft-tip cuttings taken in spring or summer, or hardwood cuttings taken in autumn or winter; bottom heat and a hormone rooting powder will be useful.
Brunfelsia Found from Central America to subtropical South America, this genus includes some 40 species of mainly evergreen shrubs and trees. The flowers of most are large, simple, long-tubed, 5-petalled and notable for their progression of color changes. White, mauve and purple are the usual colors and fragrance is common. The leaves are most often simple pointed ovals in lush, deep green tones. All species contain potent alkaloids still used in some local medicines and generally highly toxic. CULTIVATION: While very frost tender, in suitably mild climates Brunfelsia presents no cultivation difficulties. Any sunny or partly shaded position with moist well-drained soil will do. They are not drought tolerant but grow well in containers if watered routinely. Indoor potted specimens are prone to mites and mealybugs. Propagate by soft or half-hardened tip cuttings.
Brunia Resembling the better-known and closely related Berzelia, this South African genus is made up of 7 species of upright yet bushy evergreen shrubs that look rather conifer-like when not in flower. Their leaves are either linear or small and overlapping in a whipcord or scaly fashion. Pompon or ball-shaped heads of minute green to cream flowers develop mainly at the branch tips, usually from late summer. The flowers last well when cut and make an interesting addition to an arrangement. CULTIVATION: These shrubs demand perfect drainage and will not tolerate continually wet winter conditions or hard or repeated frosts. They are best grown in a light or rocky soil with the addition of some compost or humus. They will grow in sun or partial shade but need sunlight to flower well. Propagate from seed or half-hardened tip cuttings of non-flowering stems.
Brya A genus of evergreen leguminous trees from the Caribbean, there are 4 species, 3 of which are endemic to Cuba. Although commonly known as ebony because of their dark heartwood, they are not related to the true ebony, Diospyros ebenum. Brya leaves are small, and sprout directly from the stems, without stalks. The flowers, which are broom-like, develop in the leaf axils. CULTIVATION: A tropical climate is vital for these trees, which soon suffer in prolonged cool conditions. Where the climate is suitable, Brya can be an attractive tree that flowers heavily, and nursery-grown plants are available in some areas. Propagate from seed, which should be pre-treated by rubbing on sandpaper then soaking in cold water.
Bryanthus The sole species in this genus is a small heath-like shrub from northern Japan and the nearby Kamchatka region. It hugs the ground and spreads to form a wiry-stemmed carpet. A member of the erica family, Ericaceae, it is most at home with its relatives, such as the dwarf rhododendrons and Cassiope, and other small acid-soil alpine and arctic plants. CULTIVATION: Very much a plant of the cool-temperate zone, Bryanthus soon suffers in either hot, dry conditions or severe cold. Plant in cool, moist, well-drained humus-rich soil with shade from the hottest sun and water well in summer. The seed will germinate freely, though as the seedlings are tiny and easily damaged, it is usually easier to propagate the plant from layers or small tip cuttings.
Lycium This genus comprises some 100 species of deciduous and evergreen, often thorny, shrubs that inhabit temperate, subtropical and tropical regions around the world. Leaves are alternate or in clusters. The small, white, green or purplish, funnel-shaped or tubular flowers are borne in the leaf axils. The plants are primarily valued for their showy, succulent, generally bright red berries, which are produced in great abundance and make a long-lasting colorful display in autumn and early winter. CULTIVATION: Ranging from fully frost hardy to frost tender, these shrubs succeed in moderately fertile well-drained soils and prefer a sunny location. They will also grow in impoverished soils and exposed locations. The common and Chinese species are tolerant of sea spray and are useful in coastal gardens. Lycium may be grown as a hedge or espaliered against walls. As most species sucker freely they should not be planted where they are likely to invade nearby bushland or flowerbeds. Pruning should take place in winter or early spring to maintain the plant?s shape and prevent it becoming overly dense. Weak branches should be removed and excessively long ones shortened. Hedges need to be cut back hard in spring and usually require shearing 2 to 3 times a season. Espaliered specimens may be pruned after fruiting, in winter or spring. They propagate easily from seed in autumn. Hardwood cuttings may be taken in winter and softwood cuttings in summer. Lycium pallidum has a reputation for being the most difficult species to propagate, as it is extremely difficult to root from cuttings.
Nicotiana Famous as the source of tobacco leaf, this genus encompasses over 65 species, the bulk of which are annuals and perennials native to tropical and subtropical America. A few species are shrubby in habit, though they tend to be softwooded and short lived. Their leaves are usually very large and covered with fine hairs, sticky to the touch, and may exude a fragrance when crushed. The flowers are tubular or bell-shaped, usually white or pastel shades of green, pale yellow, pink or soft red, and if fragrant the scent is often released at night. CULTIVATION: Most tobacco species are frost tender or at best marginally frost tolerant. They grow best in warm humid climates with ample summer rainfall in full sun or partial shade. The soil should be well-drained and reasonably fertile. Most species are raised from seed sown in spring, though some will grow from cuttings.
Solanum Famous for the humble potato (Solanum tuberosum) in its myriad forms, this genus includes some 1,400 species of often tuberous-rooted herbs, vines, shrubs and trees that have a cosmopolitan distribution, with many from tropical America. The trees and shrubs may be evergreen or deciduous and many are armed with thorns. They are a variable lot but their flowers are all remarkably similar, being simple, small, 5-petalled structures carried singly or in clusters with a central cone of yellow stamens. Fleshy berries follow the flowers and are often the most brightly colored part of the plant. Some have spherical fruit, while others have elongated fruit shaped like chillies. The berries are usually somewhat poisonous and, because of their conspicuous color, may be attractive to children. CULTIVATION: These species vary in hardiness, though few are really frost tolerant and most are quite tender. They are generally easily grown in any well-aerated well-drained soil, and some are so easily grown that they have become serious weeds in various parts of the world. Most species prefer sun or partial shade. Propagate from seed or cuttings, or in a few cases by division.

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