September 23
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Plant Genus of the family Bixaceae

Genus Description Cultivation
Bischofia This genus consists of 2 species of large evergreen trees, one widespread in tropical Asia and the western Pacific, the other confined to China. It belongs to the large and diverse euphorbia family, but is unusual in that family in having truly compound leaves. The leaves each consist of 3 or 5 broad leaflets with bluntly toothed margins. The flowers are small but numerous in panicles at branch tips, with male and female flowers usually on different trees. Female trees bear brownish berries each containing 6 seeds. Bischofia species are valued for their timber and their bark provides a dye with traditional uses. CULTIVATION: They adapt readily to cultivation, making fast growth in tropical and subtropical climates. Although most at home in the wet tropics, they withstand dry spells quite well. A deep well-drained soil and a sheltered but sunny position produces best growth, but they can tolerate a degree of exposure. Propagate from seed.
Bismarckia A palm genus of a single species, Bismarckia is endemic to Madagascar, where it is fairly common in dry grasslands of the central plateau. It is a fairly large fan palm allied to the African doum palms (Hyphaene). It has a solitary, stout trunk topped by a crown of large fronds, which are roughly circular in outline and divided to about half their depth into stiffly radiating segments. Male and female flowers are produced on separate trees on elongated panicles among the frond bases. The tiny male flowers are crowded onto curving crimson spikes that radiate from the panicle branches, the female flowers are less conspicuous and on sparser yellowish spikes. Fruit are about date-sized with a single large seed enclosed in rather dry flesh. German botanists named Bismarckia in 1881 in honor of their famous Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, much to the chagrin of the French botanists who dominated study of Madagascar?s flora. They saw Bismarck as France?s arch-enemy, and so the French then insisted it should be included in the North African genus Medemia. CULTIVATION: Bismarckia has been widely grown in palm collections in the tropics and subtropics. It does best in a climate with a distinct dry season, but will survive in somewhat cooler and moister regions if planted in a hot sunny position. Under good conditions it makes quite fast growth if watered well in summer. Propagation is only from fresh seed with the flesh stripped off; germination takes up to 2 months and requires a container at least 12 in (30 cm) deep to accommodate the downward-growing cotyledon, from the tip of which the growing shoot turns upward.
Bixa The sole species in this genus is a small tree native to tropical South America. It is widely cultivated as an ornamental in tropical gardens and also grown commercially for the orange dye, annatto, which is obtained from its seeds and used in food coloring and fabric dyeing. An attractive tree with lush foliage and pretty flowers, it is, however, grown as much for its very distinctive bristly red seed pods, which are showier and more colorful than many flowers. CULTIVATION: Although most at home in moist, humid, tropical conditions, Bixa can be grown in a frost-free temperate climate if sheltered from cool winds. It prefers year-round moisture, good drainage and moderately fertile soil with a position in full sun or partial shade. Cutting-grown plants flower at a younger age than seedlings.



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