Caladium humboldtii

Plant for the shade (but see also below). Graceful herb to 20 cm. tall. Leaves are heart-shaped, green with dominant white patches. Native to Brazil.

A perennial that can be used as ground cover, it can grow in partial to full shade as well as in the sun. Another one of those rare plants that can grow anywhere. It should be watered regularly but should not be overwatered. It is propagated by dividing rhizones, tubers, corms or bulbs.

Calathea zebrina

Calathea Zebra Plant. Plant for the shade. The Calathea zebrinaís bright green leaves grow on the tips of their stems, are boldly striped in a striking feather-like pattern and are red-purple underneath. They can reach a length of 2 feet. The plant itself can grow to 1 meter. It bears insignificant flowers.

The plant should be kept moist, not wet, and it should be fertilized occasionally with a half-strength solution of liquid fertilizer. Too much and the plant will grow leggy. These plants grow in the shaded understory of tropical forests of the Americas and donít need strong light. Good light is nevertheless required for the leaves to attain their best colour. The plant should be divided when there are several rosettes at the base. A sharp blade should be used to separate the rosettes which should then be planted each in its own pot. (Info from several internet sources.)

Calotropis gigantea

Ivory plant, kapal-kapal, crown flower. Shrub, to 4 m tall, with waxy stems which produce a milky sap when cut. The leaves are obovate, are about 18 cm long and 12 cm wide; they are grey-green above and have a whitish powder below. The white flowers grow from the leaf axils, are star shaped, and are surrounded by a crown of 5 flesh lobes.

Canarium ovatum Engl.

Pili. Marcotted. Obtained from Legazpi City. Indigenous to the Philippines. This tree grows to a height of 35 m.

The leaves are usually three- to four-paired, ending in a terminal leaflet. The small flowers grow in clusters and the fruit is ovoid, up to 5 cm long, and is smooth and black when ripe. The tree is long-lived (the owners of one tree in the Bicol region claim it is 200 years old) and can bear up to 24,000 fruit at a time. When freshly picked, the ripe whole fruit can be boiled and the soft thick pulp eaten as a vegetable or salad. The hard-shelled kernel is the well-known pili nut. The resin extracted from the bark is an export product and has both pharmaceutical and industrial uses. It is an ingredient in the manufacture of plasters, ointments, paints, varnish, sealants, lacquers, asphalt, water and fire proofing, linoleum, plastics and printing inks. The oil from both kernel and pulp is considered equal to olive oil in quality and is suitable for culinary uses.

Catharanthus roseus, Vinca rosea, Madagascar periwinkle

Chichirica. I started out with 60 of these. Perennial shrub. Height: 30-60 cm, tends to flop. Produces almost continuous display of five-lobed flowers that are dark pink, pink, white or white with red rings. Poisonous. Prefers a sunny, well-drained location. Easily propagated from seeds; self-seeds freely. Dislikes too much water. Attracts butterflies. The vinca’s flowering life can be prolonged by pruning when the stems grow too lanky and bear fewer flowers.

Cassia alata L.

Akapulco, bikas-bikas. Candle bush. This attractive but short-lived shrub is named for its flower buds which grow in a column and look like fat yellow candles each complete with a flame. It was introduced to other tropical areas from the Americas and is now widely considered a weed.

The leaves and sap contain a fungicide (an acid) which is effective against fungal infections such as ringworm, and is useful in soaps, shampoos and lotions. The plant’s other chemical contents enable it to act as a laxative and to expel intestinal parasites. In Africa, the boiled leaves are used to treat high-blood pressure. In South America, the cassia is utilized to treat a wide range of ailments from stomach problems, fever, asthma to snake bite and venereal diseases. It is the food plant of some butterfly caterpillars. The plant recruits bodyguards against these caterpillars in the form of ants, which are attracted to the nectar produced by the “extrafloral nectarines” found near the base of the leaves. As a short-lived plant which grows commonly in damp wastelands, it helps to colonize these areas and pave the way for the regeneration of growth. All in all, an extremely valuable plant.

Cestrum nocturnum

Dama de noche; Queen of the Night. This not very pretty shrub grows quite quickly. It should not be planted near drains or filters as these can get blocked by the slender flowers which fall profusely. It blooms several times a year. In my garden it has flowered in January, March, May, June. The small greenish flowers have a powerful fragrance which is released at night, hence the plant’s name.

Pruning to keep its size within bounds seems to encourage it to flower again. Propagation is by cuttings.

Chamaedorea seifrizii

Seifrizii. Reed palm. I started with nine of these in pots. An elegant clump-forming palm with cane-like stems, this is an ideal pot plant and houseplant. It has been said to grow quickly to a mature height of 2 m and to seed early. It likes shade and can be easily propagated by division. The black seeds on dark orange stems make a striking contrast. The books say that it should be grown in a shaded, sheltered courtyard or border.

Chrysalidocarpus lutescens

Palmera. I started with 6 of these planted along the garden wall.

Citrus aurantiifolia

Dayap; lime: variegated cultivar. From India to the Malay Peninsula to the Philippines. Propagated from seeds or from cuttings. It is known as a host plant for several species of butterflies: its leaves provide food for caterpillars.

Citrus maxima

Lukban, pomelo, suha. My suha is still only about 50 cm tall and has not fruited, but it already plays host to the lime butterfly.

Citrus microcarpa

Kalamansi. In mid-January 2005, this was populated by about 15 caterpillars. It sprung a full coat of leaves in April-May.

Citrus microcarpa

Kalamansi, variegated form. It fruited fairly well for some months since then; by December 2004 there were only a few tiny fruit. The fruit is larger than the common kalamansi and, like the leaves, it is variegated. This plant always keeps its full complement of leaves and is obviously not a favourite of caterpillars. Flowering timidly by mid-January 2005, the plant was fruiting quite well by April-May.

Clerodendrum macrosiphon

Do-re-mi plant; musical note shrub. I started with 6 of these. Shrub to 2-3 feet. Indigenous to New Guinea and the Philippines. Grows in primary forests at low and medium altitudes. The short-lived (they fall in two to three days) white flowers resemble musical notes in the bud and open to small flowers with red stamens. The plant blooms intermittently throughout the year, though January-February seems to be a dormant period. Slowly coming into flower in early March 2004.

Clerodendrum philippinum, C. chinense

Shrub, 1.2-2.4 metres tall, with dense terminal heads of fragrant (often sterile) white-pink-mauve flowers which look like tight nosegays. The leaves are large (6-10 cm long), opposite and simple with variable margins. Thrives in moist and fertile soil. While it tolerates shade, it prefers sunny locations. It can be invasive and is considered a potential environmental weed in some countries. Propagated by root suckers.

Clerodendrum quadriloculare

Bagawak. I started with 2 of these. This tall shrub or small tree, growing to a height of 5 m, is a Philippine native. The large paired oval leaves are dark green above, reddish purple underneath. The flowers are produced in large showy clusters around 25 cm in diameter, each with a narrow pink tube about 7 cm long, ending in five white spreading petal lobes. Nectar-bearing, they are attractive to butterflies. The plant produces numerous seeds and suckers profusely from the roots. The fruit is ellipsoid and is up to 1.5 cm in length. Considered an invasive weed in some countries.

Clerodendrum thomsonae

Known as Bleeding Heart in the Philippines. Glorybower. A native of West Africa, this slender woody vine is one of the few flowering vines for the shade. It has clusters of brilliant red flowers surrounded by white inflated calyxes, which are its most distinctive ornamental feature. The flowers are nectar-bearing and are attractive to butterlifes. It has dark green ovate leaves 7-10 cm long and soft, slightly wooden stems. It likes somewhat dry conditions and at least partial shade. The flowers should be picked off when faded, and the vine should be pruned as needed. It is propagated from suckers or green wood cuttings.

Clerodendrum ugandense

Blue butterfly. This scandent shrub with pale and dark blue flowers grows tall quite rapidly. It is propagated by air-layering or from woody cuttings. It blooms on and off throughout the year. It was not too floriferous in the rainy month of July 2003, but came into its own in the drier month of November.

Clitoria ternatea L.

Blue pea vine, pukinggan. I bought 2 plants for P40 from one of the nurseries in Barangay Maharlika, Tagaytay. The leaves consist of five leaflets with short petioles. The flowers are described as solitary bright blue flowers with yellow markings on white centres. They are borne in great numbers throughout the year. The pod is flat, linear, green and up to 10 cm long.

Cordyline fruticosa; Cordyline terminalis

It has a single, unbranched stem, with the leaves crowded at the end of stem. It bears flowers in panicles from the leaf cluster, which are followed by berry-like fruit. Several cultivars of varied leaf sizes, shapes and colours have recently been introduced to the Philippines. Most need the sun to develop their full leaf colours, though some prefer the shade. The colours become more intense during the drier, cooler months that follow the rainy season.

Crossandra infundibuliformis

Common crossandra. Shrub to 90 cm tall. Native to India, tropical Africa and Madagascar. Recently introduced to the Philippines. The yellow-orange flowers are nectar-bearing and are attractive to butterflies. Propagated by stem cuttings.

Cymbidium Enzan Delight 'Fluorish'

Tentative ID: Cymbidium Enzan Delight 'Fluorish'. A hybrid orchid with all-yellow flowers patented in Korea. I was encouraged to buy several pots of this Cymbidium by an enthusiast who said it blooms frequently, multiplies rapidly and is very easy to care for. I was looking for flowering plants to brighten up my garden and what she said sounded good to me. Five months after purchase, my plants continue to look healthy, though they havenít quite lived up to the promise of frequent blooms. The one in the photograph was the most mature of the lot when I bought them and had the biggest clump. Perhaps this is the reason why it has bloomed at least 3 times since its purchase, and this monthís flowers are particularly large. I have them planted in a border under direct sun and they are fertilized either with urea (to encourage leaf growth) and Osmocote or Complete (to encourage flowering).

Cymbopogon citratus

Lemon grass, tanglad. I have both the Philippine and the Thai varieties. To me the Thai variety has the more delicate scent and flavour. Madulid and internet sources give both varieties the same scientific name. Both are clump-forming grasses that grow to 1.8 m. Their flowers are large, compound panicles with loose slender branches. They are propagated by division and are said to be native to Sri Lanka and southern India.

Cyrtostachy renda

Red palm; sealing wax palm. This is a medium-sized tufted palm, which means that it produces offshoots and grows as a clump of slender trunks, each with its own crown of leaves. It has bright red leaf sheaths, which appear down nearly the full length of the trunks as well as along the leaf stalk. The leaves are stiff and feather-shaped, and a fully grown clump is not too large for a small garden. Rises to about 6 m. The red palm is said to be easy to grow provided it gets a lot of water and the full sun. Propagation by offshoots. (Idea for planting: combine with bromeliads with a touch of red in their leaves)