Clusia orthoneura, or The Plant That Ate the Greenhouse

C_orthoneura
Clusia orthoneura flower

Half the fun of trading or giving away plant cuttings and divisions is seeing what other people can do with the same plants that I grow.  For the past ten years, I have been growing Clusia orthoneura, a strange epiphytic shrub from South America.  My plant resides in a 14″ terracotta bulb pan and is a semi-bonsai.  Every year, I put it outside for the summer, where its branches sprout aerial roots that reach the ground and dig in by the end of the summer.  Each autumn, I cut back those roots and much of the new foliage, so it will fit back into my greenhouse.  As a result, it remains almost the same size from year to year.

About five years ago, I rooted a small cutting and gave it to John Stanton, owner of the Orchid Trail nursery in Morrisville, NC.  John put the cutting in an 8″ diameter pot, and sat it on one of his greenhouse benches.  In the large commercial greenhouse, it wasn’t moved every year, and roots that grew down through the bench weren’t disturbed.  Also, John is an exceptionally good grower.

Earlier this week I stopped by the Orchid Trail in search of a particular slipper orchid species, and John showed me his Clusia.

The plant rises about six feet above the greenhouse bench and is equally wide.

clusia1

Under the greenhouse bench, the roots resemble those of a mangrove or a strangler fig.

clusia3

The pot is still visible, but most of the plant’s bulk completely bypasses it.  At this point, the pot could be cut away without bothering the plant at all.

clusia2

It’s almost unrecognizable as the same species as the stunted little thing in my greenhouse.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Clusia orthoneura, or The Plant That Ate the Greenhouse

  1. Oh! That looks like it would be a problem. We have strangler fig in one of the greenhouses. I would like to get rid of it, but my colleague really likes it. It is crushing one of the posts that hold the roof up.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s