Maranta group. Plants for the shade. Marantas, Calatheas, Ctenanthes and Stromanthes are members of the Marantaceae (arrowroot) family. They are considered some of the most attractive and spectacular species of foliage plants. During the day these beautiful plants display their colourful leaves with in all their glory and then when night falls they folds up their leaves showing their contrasting undersides. This is why these plants are called “prayer plants”, a wonderful adaptation to make the most from the sunlight in the deep and luxuriant rain-forests from which they originate. (Info source:

Magnolia coco

Chinese magnolia. Shrub to 3 m tall. Produces 5-cm white, round, cup-shaped fragrant flowers. Leaves are dark green, oblong and glossy. Native to China. Propagated by seeds or by marcotting. Flowering again 4 June 2003, and again by 18 June (but not profusely) and 12 July. After some months without flowering, it started to bud in February 2004.

Magnolia grandiflora?

Tree to 30 m tall. The leathery leaves are up to 20 cm long, shining dark green above, dusty tomentose underneath. The flowers are white, fragrant. Native to the United States, not common in the Philippines. A single bud in February 2004, fully formed (length of petals: 9 cm) by early March; starting to fade by 10 March. New flower buds appearing by 24 March; fully opened by May.

Medinilla magnifica

Kapa-kapa. 1 at P1,300 from Ming’s Garden, Tagaytay. An impressive shrub native to the Philippines. Grows up to 2 metres in height. It has large leathery leaves with ivory-coloured midribs and periodic masses of pink-red flowers surrounded by showy pink bracts. The flower stems may be up to 30 cm long. Does not do well at lower altitudes.

While it likes light, the Medinilla must be protected from direct sunlight. It prefers to be a little dry rather than too wet, and it should be fertilized once a month. Faded flowers should be removed to encourage new growth, from which new flowers will be produced. If necessary, the plant can be cut back a little. It is propagated from woody cuttings or by air-layering.

Medinilla speciosa

4 for P1,500. Native to Java, recently introduced to the Philippines. Small shrub with smooth, 4 angled branches. Leaves are opposite 5-nerved, bright glossy green above, tinged red beneath. Flowering branch is small and compact. Pale rose flowers, flower stems becoming deep pink as fruiting begins; fruit also deep pink.

Melanolepsis multiglandulosa (Alim)

This well-known wild tree and its varieties grow in thickets and secondary growth forests at low to medium altitudes; it is also often found on sandy shores by the sea. It has oval-shaped leaves with incised margins, sometimes with three lobes. It carries panicles of off-white to light green florets at ends of branches. It bears small green fruit capsules in long clusters. As the alim is drought-tolerant, it is recommended for rainforestration in dry arid areas.

Many birds of varying sizes (such as Lowland White-Eye, Asian Glossy Starling, White-eared Brown Dove) feed on its small fruit. The alim also plays host to insects which in turn attract insect-eating birds such as the Golden-bellied Flycatcher.

Michelia alba

Tsampakang-puti. I have 2 plants. Can grow up to 20 metres (some say 10), has creamy white blooms with a powerful fragrance (the essential oil derived from these blooms is used in the production of the perfume Joy). Native to Java. Propagated by air-layering. Flowered in June 2003 over a period of several weeks; no flowers by the third week of July. Flower buds appearing by 24 March 2004; blooming in early June 2005.

The tsampaka is a host plant for some species of butterflies.

Mucuna bennettii

New Guinea Creeper. 1 at P1,500 from Anihan Botanical Gardens, Governor Leviste Road, Barangay Bulacnin, Lipa City. Tel. 043 312 6607. This climber belongs to the same botanical family as the jade vine. Similar pea-type flowers hung in 3-4 foot racemes from the woody stems, but they are a vivid red-orange. Trifoliate leaves made up of ovate dark green leaflets. Introduced to cultivation only in 1940 when seeds collected in the New Guinea jungle were successfully germinated at the Singapore Botanic Garden. Prefers its roots to be in the shade; likes well-drained soil. Tends to sulk a bit after transplanting, but makes up for time lost after a while.

Muntingia calabura (Datiles. Aratiles. Philippine Cherry)

I am sure everyone knows this tree and its fruit. When it is fruiting, it provides the Red-keeled Flowerpecker with its daily bread. I have seen a Red-Crested Malkoha perched on it. The Lowland White-Eye loves it, as does the Yellow-Vented Bulbul. The Bee-eaters fly to it because it attracts bees when in flower, and I have observed a Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker foraging for insects on it.

Murraya paniculata (L.) Jack

Kamuning. Mock orange. Orange-jasmine. 1 at P75. A few flowers 3 June 2003. I have seen this as a very attractive small tree which had obviously been pruned as it grew to show off the attractive bark on trunk and branches. Member of the orange family. Has attractive, glossy green foliage, tolerates most conditions and regularly produces clusters of small, scented white flowers followed by small bright red fruit. Can be clipped into a topiary, though this will curtail flowering. Blooms most profusely during the rainy season.


Mussaenda 'Clara L. Davide'

This Mussaenda hybrid, released in 2009, was developed by the Institute of Plant Breeding of the University of the Philippines Los Baños. UPLB describes it as having cream “petals” with a Neyron Rose tinge, edge and vein color. It has one larger bract surrounded by 4-5 small elliptic lanceolate bracts, which twist and turn and surround the tiny yellow true flowers.

Mussaendas bloom almost throughout the year, except from January to March when they are less proliferous. They love the sun and should be planted in the open. They appreciate a good mulching and plenty of feeding when new growth is starting. Some gardeners recommend pruning to a convenient size after flowering to encourage new shoots and subsequent blooms.

Mussaenda can produce seed (in a small fruit), but production is poor and unreliable. Cuttings can be also be difficult to strike, although this varies among cultivars. Alternative means of propagation include grafting, layering and marcotting.

Mussaenda philippica ‘Doña Aurora’

White bracts. Shrub to 4 m tall. Native to the Philippines. Flowered continuously between April 2003 and February 2004. Stopped flowering for a while, then lost most of its leaves. Flowering profusely again by early May; still ‘flowering’ magnificently by October; most ‘flowers’ gone by end-December 2004: in short, my plant gave different flowering performances in 2003 and 2004. Full complement of flowers by May 2005.

Mussaenda philippica ‘Doña Luz’

Hybrid. Deep-rose multiple bracts. According to Warren, the Mussaenda needs full sun to flower continuously and regular pruning to make a bushy plant. It is propagated from semi-hard cuttings.