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Mutisia subulata Ruiz & Pavon

Modern name

Mutisia subulata f. subulata

An evergreen, slender-stemmed climber reported by collectors as growing 6 to 10 ft high; young shoots grey, ribbed, much zigzagged. Leaves glabrous, linear, 1 to 3 in. long 116 in. or so wide, grey-green, grooved above, the midrib prominent beneath and often prolonged at the apex into a curling tendril. Flower-heads with some eight or ten ray-florets of an orange-scarlet colour, each floret of lanceolate shape, 112 in. long by 14 in. wide. Involucre cylindrical, 112 in. long by 12 in. wide; scales overlapping, 14 to 38 in. wide, broadly ovate, tipped with down. Bot. Mag., t. 9461.

Native of Chile; originally named in 1798 and collected in the wild many times since, but not introduced apparently until 1928, when seeds reached Britain through the agency of G. W. Robinson and the late Clarence Elliott; a living plant brought home by the former flowered in 1930. It is very distinct from the species previously mentioned in its stems which are scarcely thicker than an ordinary strand of worsted. Like other species, it should be planted to grow over a bush or small tree, on which it should eventually form a mass of interlaced branches and flower about midsummer. It is of doubtful hardiness, but would, no doubt, find the south-western counties warm enough.

f. rosmarinifolia (Poepp. & Endl.) Cabrera M. linearifolia Hook., not Cav.; M. hookeri Meyen; M. linariifolia Remy – This form of M. subulata has its dark shining leaves much more crowded on the stem, sometimes, judging by wild specimens, a dozen or more to the inch; they are also shorter, mostly only 1 to 112 in. long and up to 18 in. wide, linear-subulate and pointed; their midribs do not lengthen out into tendrils. Flower-heads described as ‘rich and brilliant crimson-scarlet’; involucre bottle-shaped, 114 in. long.

The late Clarence Elliott introduced this mutisia from Chile in 1928. He wrote that at 6,000 ft altitude (below which he did not find it) it was a wiry climber trailing over shrubs up to 8 or 10 ft. At 9,000 ft it grew flat upon desolate screes, forming lumps 3 or 4 ft wide, with thick woody root-stocks not rising more than 3 in. above ground level and suggesting when in flower colonies of scarlet gerberas.

It is not certain whether either of the mutisias described above are in cultivation at the present time. Both grow in the Andes of Aconcagua and Coquimbo provinces.



Other species in the genus