March 17
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Plant Genus of the family Lecythidaceae

Genus Description Cultivation
Barringtonia This genus of around 40 species of evergreen and deciduous trees occurs in tropical Asia, Australia and the Pacific islands, with one species extending to East Africa and two to Madagascar. Growing mainly at edges of swamps, streams, estuaries and beaches, barringtonias are small to large trees with fairly large leaves crowded toward the ends of thick branchlets. Flowers are in usually pendulous spikes, sometimes quite long, emerging at the branchlet tips or shortly behind them. Each flower has short petals and a showy ?powderpuff? of longer stamens and they mostly open progressively from the base of the spike. The largish fruits are hard and usually green, with thin flesh over a tough inner layer enclosing the single seed; they are adapted to dispersal by water, either fresh or salt. Barringtonias all contain saponins and in most regions where they grow are used to paralyze fish, the usual method being to throw the pounded foliage into pools and wait until the fish float to the top. CULTIVATION: Several species have been found to make fine ornamentals in the tropics, valued for their handsome foliage as well as showy flowers that attract nectar-feeding birds and bats. They thrive in any situation where soil moisture is fairly constant, though also tolerating seasonal flooding and brackish groundwater. Propagation is from seed, sown when freshly fallen.
Beaucarnea The 20 species of evergreen trees and shrubs that make up this genus are found in arid regions ranging from the southern USA to Mexico and Guatemala. It is closely related to Yucca and the species have long, linear, often grass-like leaves. The trunks become bulbous and swollen and have thick corky bark. It is several years before plants commence flowering when large panicles of tiny white flowers are carried. CULTIVATION: Outdoor cultivation is only possible in warm, dry and frost-free areas. In cooler areas plants can be grown in greenhouses or as indoor pot plants. Too much water in winter can cause the stem to rot. Propagation is by seed or offsets in spring.
Beaufortia A myrtle family genus of around 18 species of evergreen shrubs named early in the nineteenth century after Mary, Duchess of Beaufort, Beaufortia is confined naturally to Western Australia. In many ways the genus can be seen as just another variation on the theme of Melaleuca, Kunzea and Callistemon, but they tend to be smaller and flower heavily at a younger age. The foliage is often much reduced, making the bushes appear as a cluster of upright wiry stems. The flowerheads are filamentous and may be near spherical or extended and bottlebrush-like. CULTIVATION: Apart from tolerating only light to moderate frosts, these are fairly easily grown plants that prefer a sunny position with moist well-drained soil. Well-established specimens are drought tolerant, though perhaps not as much as their origins may suggest. For compact growth, trim lightly in spring. The usual propagation methods are seed or half-hardened cuttings taken from non-flowering stems.
Bedfordia A genus of 3 species of evergreen trees and shrubs from southeastern Australia (including Tasmania), Bedfordia is closely allied to Brachyglottis and Senecio in the daisy (composite) family. They have erect trunks and thick, somewhat flaky pale bark, and the younger twigs are coated in a close mat of whitish hairs; the elongated leaves have thick woolly hairs on their undersides. Flowerheads are small and cylindrical, borne in short clusters among the upper leaves. They lack ray florets but the tubular golden yellow disc florets are quite decorative. Bedfordia species grow in cooler mountain and hill regions, usually in tall moist forests. CULTIVATION: Generally slow-growing, they require a cool but mild climate and a humid sheltered situation in semi-shade, with moist but well-drained soil rich in humus. Propagation is possible from either seed or cuttings, though the dense mat of wool on twigs makes the latter method problematic.
Bejaria Found from northern South America through Central America and into southern USA, this genus encompasses 25 species of evergreen shrubs and trees. Members of the erica family, the Ericaceae, they have the racemes of small bell-shaped flowers typical of many of their relatives. The leaves are ovate to oblong with smooth edges and are seldom more than 2?in (5?cm) long. CULTIVATION: Few species will tolerate any frost and most are best grown under subtropical conditions. They are also intolerant of drought and prefer cool, moist, well-drained, humus-enriched soil that is slightly acidic. Plant in sun or partial shade and, if necessary, trim after flowering. Propagate from seed, layers or small half-hardened cuttings.
Berberidopsis This genus of evergreen climbing shrubs belongs to the family of Flacourtiaceae and has one species native to South America, mainly from Chile, that is now very rare in the wild and may even be extinct. The shrubs are grown for their ornamental foliage and sprays of pendent scarlet flowers which are held from summer until early autumn. They can reach 15 ft (4.5 m) in height with a similar spread, when trained to do so. CULTIVATION: These plants grow best in moist woodland, acid to neutral soil, preferring a sheltered site in partial shade with root protection in winter. While moisture is essential, good free drainage is also needed. Propagate from seed in spring, half-hardened cuttings in late summer, or layered trailing branches in autumn. Prune only if necessary. In areas prone to frost, grow in a greenhouse or conservatory.
Bertholletia Very rarely cultivated, even for commercial crops, this genus includes just one species: a deciduous tree from the Amazon area that can grow to well over 120?ft (36?m) tall. While it is the source of the very well-known Brazil nut, few gardeners would recognize the tree from which the nuts come. It has large leaves that fall in the dry season, and panicles of flowers that develop into a 6?in (15?cm) woody fruit up to about 5?lb (2.2?kg) in weight in which up to 24 individual nuts are arranged like the segments of an orange. CULTIVATION: The Brazil nut is very much a plant of the wet-seasonal tropics. To thrive it needs hot humid conditions, plenty of moisture when in leaf and humus-rich soil. The soil of its forest homeland is often nutrient-poor and feeding will certainly improve the quantity and quality of the nut crop. While almost all the Brazil nuts sold are collected from wild plants, there is no reason why the trees could not be propagated from seed, and this may soon be necessary as the tree is endangered in some parts of its range.
Berzelia This South African genus includes some 12 species of upright, wiry-stemmed evergreen shrubs with a dense covering of small, fine, needle-like leaves. The flowers, which appear in spring and summer, are minute but are packed in spherical clusters, of which there are several per head of bloom. The flowers are white to cream and because the stamens extend beyond the tiny petals, the flowerhead appears studded with protrusions. CULTIVATION: Berzelia is best gown in light well-drained soil with a good supply of summer moisture and a position in full sun. If necessary, trim lightly to shape after flowering. Most species are easily propagated from seed or from small half-hardened tip cuttings of non-flowering stems.

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