A young plant in the south area of the Rock Garden is the Chilean lantern tree, Crinodendron hookerianum, so called by the shape and orientation of the flowers.
This evergreen reaches 3.5m in the Valdivian rainforest of southern Chile, where they are seen growing on riverbanks from sea level to 600m. Fruit production is abundant in the native populations.
Here at the Garden, flower bud production commences in autumn but it is now that the pink shades of the lantern-shaped corolla are fully appreciated. The fused petals that make up the corolla are waxy thick; on fading, they disintegrate apart revealing the decorative flower parts. When complete, the top is a serrated circle which would double as a pastry cutter. Take a moment to appreciate the artistic twist of the anthers and filaments. At the base of these are the buttercup-yellow nectaries.
The flowers are held on stalks from the leaf axil on the previous year’s growth. As the wood ages the brown stems are covered in white lenticels.