Today I was presented with some good news on the seed germination front. When I popped the lid on one of my germination chambers I found that my Radermachera ignea seeds had started to sprout. This is my third attempt to germinate seed of this beautiful tree. I believe the first two failures were due to the fact I attempted to germinate old seed. This time I was able to be at the right place at the right time to get fresh seed right off the tree. I have never grown this tree in my garden, which is why I am excited my seed germinated this time.
Here are some of my germinated plants that have sprouted up. These were sown in a Styrofoam box to keep humidity up and temperatures pretty constant. I use mostly perelite and a little of the Fox Farms Light Warrior as the germination medium. The seedlings will remain in the Styrofoam germination chamber until they are a little bigger, before being moved to individual containers.
This is a closeup photo of the seedling furthest along. Even from the first leaves you can see the Radermachera
Radermachera ignea seed is flat with a narrow wing at both ends. I was able to collect the seed from the mother plant last fall.
So what is Radermachera ignea, you ask? Radermachera ignea (Tree Jasmine or Peep Thong) is another beautiful flowering tree in the Bignoniaceae family. Anyone who has traveled to Chiang Rai in Thailand will already know this plant. In its native habitat in Northern Thailand (as well as Northern Laos and the Northern Myanmar) the tree can grow to 100 feet tall. While cultivating in our Mediterranean climate I have yet to find one taller than 15 feet. It is a deciduous tree like the more common Radermachera sinica (China Doll Tree), but Radermachera ignea has striking orange-colored flowers that grow straight from the trunk and branches. It gets its common name “Tree Jasmine” from the strong Jasmine-like fragrance it gives off when in bloom. However, like many tropical flowering trees with a strong fragrance, once they are grown in less humid environments the fragrance is mostly lost. So don’t expect a powerful scent wafting through your garden like you get with a Magnolia champaca, for example.
Here is the mother plant, found growing at Rancho Soledad Nursery.
Just like some of the other Radermacheras I can grow, I find this tree to be very elegant with its bi-pinnate, shiny leaves, and overall bushy look. For me it has great year-round appeal, which is a strict requirement for trees in my garden. I took these photos the same day I took all the photos for the Rancho Soledad Nursery tour posted here. As you can see, it is a beautiful tree, and luckily I was there while it was in bloom. If you look closely at the picture you can also see that it suffered some die back, which occurred during the freeze of 2007. So I would rate this tree a little more cold- and frost-sensitive than Radermachera sinica.
You can clearly tell from the flowers that Radermachera ignea is part of the Trumpet-creeper family.
As I stated earlier, the orange-colored flowers come right out of the trunk and branches. This makes it rather unique.
I’m looking forward to growing Radermachera ignea in my garden and will post an update once I have one in the ground. I assume it will take two years for the plant to be large enough to be planted out. I have quite a few friends who have already laid claim to the extras. So all these plants will surely find a good home.