The newest species added to the collection, Passiflora urbaniana, has bloomed. While its leaves weren’t much to look at as the plant grew from seed, our horticulturists and botanists were pleasantly surprised when the plant finally matured and produced stunning, fragrant flowers. Aren’t we biased toward pleasant smelling as well as good looking things!
Our plant was collected during botanical inventory work in Belize two years ago by Selby Gardens’ staffers Bruce Holst, Elizabeth Gandy, and Anastasia Sallen, and Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch Botanical Garden staffer, Sayuri Tzul. It is common in coastal Belize, but is restricted to one country, Belize, and grows naturally nowhere else in the world. As the story goes, the original plant used as the model in the species’ description was collected in Belize sometime prior to 1906 and cultivated in Cuba. A herbarium specimen was made there in 1906 and it came to the attention of Ellsworth P. Killip of the US National Museum (Smithsonian) and he formerly described it in 1927 in the Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences. In the article he wrote: “This new species is named for Dr. I. [Ignatz] Urban, the eminent student of the flora of the West Indies, whose assistance to me at Berlin [herbarium] is highly appreciated.” Moral of the story, be nice to herbarium visitors and they might name something after you!
Written by Bruce Holst, Vice President for Botany