C-section – Roscoea tibetica

Update: I have serious doubts now that this is R. tibetica (or bhutanica) and although I had intentions I won’t add to the general confusion by offering seeds. I am waiting for other opinions regarding its identity (maybe R. australis?)…..probably it will be a looong wait.

Yesterday morning I had the wonderful surprise to find Roscoea (tibetica) in ‘labour’. The capsule was just starting to split open showing the seeds. The smallest of the genus, R. tibetica has a particular way of developing the capsule at soil level (easy to miss it), inside the stem actually, and I thought it would be interesting to show it, especially because this is also the final confirmation of its identity.

Roscoea tibetica capsule

Roscoea (tibetica) showing split capsule

Roscoea species have arilate seeds, so if ants are around (or earwigs) it’s wise not to miss the ‘delivery’. A bit of help is needed to extract the seeds without the stem being destroyed – a clean, small cut, followed by a bandage application (cheesecloth works perfectly) to secure the leftover seeds (the flowers open in succession so not all the seeds mature at the same time).

Size, shape and arils are good characters for Roscoea ID, especially considering that there is quite a bit of confusion going around – R. tibetica has seeds with deeply lacerate arils.

I presented Roscoea tibetica in the Little plants series; this year grew better in part-shade, sharing a container with A. fargesii seedlings. This is a great little Roscoea for the rock garden. Easy to grow from seeds, it can be quite variable; the form shown in the featured image has small purple flowers barely showing from among the stems, so one cannot really call it a showy plant. More than this, it starts growing sometimes in June, it flowers in late June, and by mid-August the seeds are ripen – ‘living in the fast lane’!

One for collectors and people in love with ‘little plants’ :)

Good read on Roscoea: The Genus Roscoea – Jill Cowley, RBG Kew, 2007. Speaking of which, reading again about R. tibetica and R. bhutanica, it seems that my plant fits more likely with the later: “Leaf blades usually 2-6 at flowering time, slightly auriculate… Inflorescence enclosed in leaf sheats. Flowers opening just above leaves, one open at a time…..Seed aril shallowly lacerate.”

Happy to hear other opinion…

8 replies
    • diversifolius
      diversifolius says:

      R. tibetica is mainly a ‘selfer’ :0 but one year I saw a hummingbird feeding on another Roscoea. Otherwise, I suppose bumblebees, long-tongue moths (?).

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