Christmas Star Makes No Haste to Open…

Christmas Star Makes No Haste to Open…

Not only does this cold winter weather with a lack of sunlight affect people’s everyday lives, but it also affects the behaviour of plants.For example, it delayed flowering for poinsettia plants (also known as the Christmas Star) in the Ashgabat Botanical Garden’s glasshouse.

Native to the mountain regions of Mexico and Central America, the poinsettia has a star-shaped fiery red flowers and blooms in December at Christmas.This is why it got its unofficial, but very common name, the Christmas Star.

Poinsettias grow well not only on mountain slopes, but are widely grown indoors.Magical properties are usually attributed to these plants.For instance, it is believed that the plant can wither if there is an ill-wisher in the household.

The potted plant in a newly married couple’s bedroom is thought to be a guarantee of having a baby soon and a good marriage relationship.

- It often occurs in nature that plants with beautiful blooms have plain-looking leaves and vice versa, Gulzar Bazarova, the head of the Biological Survey and Seed Bank Department, commented, while showing the Christmas Star. And poinsettias are a telling example of this. These relatively inconspicuous plants change beyond recognition when they bloom at Christmas time.

Photojournalist Suleyman Charyev took a close-up photograph of the biggest, but only slightly open flower. For comparison, Gulzar Rozyevna showed us a photograph of last year’s bloom on her computer.

- And how are other plants affected by the cold weather?

- In different ways. Let us take the Washingtonia palm tree. It shows no change and flowers all year round.

- Palms can produce flowers what an unexpected combination of words! Can we have a look?

The Ashgabat Botanical Garden’s glasshouse boasts eight palm varieties: Chamaedorea Elegans, Chamaerops, Phoenix Canariensis (Canary Island Date Palm), Phoenix Dactylifera (Edible Date Palm), Washingtonia, Washingtonia Robusta (Thread Palm), Palmetto Palm, and Trachycarpus (Hemp Palm).

I was surprised to learn that there are 2,700 species of palm trees across the world.The Amazon River basin and islands of the Malay Archipelago are the planet’s two largest areas where palm trees grow naturally.

As introduced species (non-native plants brought from their natural habitats to a new environment for the first time), these eight species turned out to be the most tolerant and resistant to our climate.

And the outcomes are particularly impressive.

The date palms: Phoenix Canariensis and Phoenix Dactylifera, which were first planted in the glasshouse in 1962, have survived until today.At that time they were 15 years old, and now they are nearly 77 years old.

I would not call the palm trees old as they continue to grow and some of the species still bear fruits.The palms, which are the highlights of the glasshouse, are monoecious.

This means that both male and female flowers are borne on the same plant.But how can they be identified?After researcher Ekaterina Kuroshina provided an explanation, it became quite clear.

But I will tell about it later.When I saw the flower heads on the palms, I immediately realized why non-botanists do not know about them as they look like dead tree branches hanging between feather-shaped (pinnate) leaves.

As they joke here, these flowers can be given to no one.They serve a different function.The female flowers have black seeds, which fall down to the ground when ripe.

There are many seeds around female palms and just a few around male palms.Now I can say for certain that the female trees are in the middle and on the right, and the male tree is on the left.

These palms can be considered lucky in comparison with the date palm with tasty seedless dates. Its edible dates are unable to reproduce since it is the female tree.

Something is always in bloom at the Botanical Garden. Next in turn is the Japanese quince (Chaenomeles Japonica). It usually begins to bloom in February, but the cold winter will likely lead to a delay. We will come here again with our photojournalist to look at this wonder of nature and to share our impressions with readers.

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