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Grevillea banksii

Grevillea banksii Closeup

Scientific name: Grevillea banksii

Common names: Red silky oak, dwarf silky oak, Banks’ grevillea, kahili flower

Family: Proteaceae

Nativity: Queensland, Australia

Location: San Francisco, California

Date: June 29, 2013

Notes: This beautiful plant was growing poolside in a garden I visited as part of the Garden Bloggers Fling in 2013. The Californians in the group had no trouble identifying it as grevillea for those of us pondering, because it is a common landscape shrub there in the land of cool temperatures but no frost. It is also widely cultivated in Australia, where it is native, and many cultivars and hybrids have been created, making it popular far and wide. As a result, grevillea has naturalized in Hawaii, and is a pesky invasive in Madagascar.

I noticed an interesting contradiction in the literature about Grevillea: They contain cyanide and shouldn’t be consumed, and they have sweet nectar which the aborigines of Australia would shake into a cup and drink! I wonder if they survived it? Some species must have less poison than others.

Grevillea banksii

Schlumbergera truncata ‘Caribbean Dancer’

Schlumbergera truncata Carribean Dancer

Scientific name: Schlumbergera truncata ‘Caribbean Dancer’

Common names: Thanksgiving cactus, Christmas cactus, false Christmas cactus, holiday cactus, crab cactus

Family: Cactaceae

Nativity: Eastern Brazil

Location: Houseplant at Oakleaf Woods

Date: November 16, 2015

Notes: ‘Caribbean Dancer’ is one of my earliest-blooming Schlumbergera. This year it was in bud by the beginning of October and in bloom by the beginning of the second week of November. The bicolor flowers are also some of the brightest, most intensely colored.

If you call these cacti that bloom in November “Christmas cactus,” you may be corrected with the explanation that Christmas cactus is a different plant altogether—the hybrid Schlumbergera x buckleyi which blooms laterand that Schlumbergera truncata is correctly called, “Thanksgiving cactus.” My feeling is that common names don’t mean much, they aren’t standardized, and really you can call a plant anything you want to. In fact, Schlumbergera truncata is called Christmas cactus more often than not. Using scientific names is the way to avoid misunderstanding. Both of these plants conveniently bloom during our long holiday season in the USA.

Mr. Subjective’s article about Schlumbergera at Plants are the Strangest People is the best, most detailed I’ve seen:

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