Garden Plants

This page is an alphabetical listing of all the plants in the Tribute Garden. It includes the scientific name, common name, family, origin and accompanying text. For those needing further botanical information on a specific plant there is also a link to The Plant List.


Finding Out More

Sir Joseph Banks’ key interest was botany and the plants in the garden reflect this. The society has a number of ways in whch you can share in his passion.

Visiting the Garden


New informative plant labels have been introduced to provide further information on the individual plants and their relationship to Sir Joseph Banks.

 

Image of smartphone appsWhen you visit the Tribute Garden you will notice that many of the plant labels include QR codes. Use your smartphone with a QR code app to link to individual plants on this page.

Garden Printed Booklet


As an alternative to using QR codes we have also produced a printed booklet that contains the bulk of the plant information on this page together with much more information on the life and work of Sir Joseph Banks.

You can buy the booklet when you visit the garden or alternatively you can order it here. Click on ‘Add to basket’ below.


Abutilon vitifolium ‘Album’

Abutilon image
Joseph Banks and his party saw this species in Australia at the Bay of Inlets in 1770, at Bustard Bay between the 22nd and 24th May 1770 and at the Endeavour River from 17th June to the 4th August 1770. Abutilon is represented in the garden by Abutilon vitifolium ‘Alba’ which was originally from Chile. The flowers of this evergreen shrub are hermaphrodite. They are edible with a pleasant mild flavour and will enhance any salad.

Common Name: Chilean Tree Mallow

Family: MALVACEAE

Region: South Chile

More Information: The Plant List


Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea’

Image of Cootamundra Wattle

There are around 1200 species of Acacia, 954 of which occur in Australia, the rest coming mainly from Africa. In the garden there are 3 varieties, Acacia dealbata, known as florists mimosa, Acacia baileyana and Acacia retinodes. Acacias are collectively known as “Wattle” from the Old English meaning woven rods and twigs. The early European settlements in Australia constructed shelters using the wattle and daub method, the daub consisting of mud ‘daubed’ over the wattle framework. The most commonly used wood for this framework was not Acacia but one very similar ‘Callicoma’ with Acacia-like flowers. The gold of the flowers and the green of the foliage have become the national colours of Australia.

Common Name: Cootamundra Wattle

Family: LEGUMINOSAE

Region: Australia

More Information: The Plant List


Agapanthus africanus

Image of Agapanthus

The name Agapanthus comes from the Greek ‘agape’ meaning love and ‘anthos’ meaning flower hence flower of love. Other names are ‘African Lily’ and ‘Lily of the Nile. Agapanthus originate from South Africa, the first reaching Europe in 1652 via Dutch settlers, and the UK in 1687. In 1772 Francis Masson, the first Kew plant collector appointed by Joseph Banks, sailed with Cook on the Resolution under directions from the Admiralty. He sent back to England over 500 plant species including Agapanthus inapertus.

Common Name: African Lily

Family: AMARYLLIDACEAE

Region: South Africa

More Information: The Plant List


Ajuga reptans

Ajuga reptans

Ajuga reptans

A spreading stoloniferous perennial to 30 cm in height, forming a wide mat of dark green obovate leaves, with erect spikes of dark blue flowers in late spring and early summer. A fairly common flower of the British countryside in damp woods and shady places.

Common Name: Bugle

Family: LAMIACEAE

Region: Europe

More Information: The Plant List


Alstroemeria pulchella

Image of Alstroemeria

Native to Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay but widely cultivated as an ornamental, it has become naturalised into the wild in Australia (New South Wales and Norfolk Island), New Zealand, Madeira, the Canary Islands, and the south-eastern United States.

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Common Name: Parrot Lily

Family: ALSTOEMERIACEAE

Region: South America

More Information: The Plant List


Astelia chathamica ‘Silver Spear’

Astelia nervosa ‘Westland’

Image of Maori Flax

Scattered throughout the Southern hemisphere, Astelias are very drought tolerant, tough and hardy. Astelia chathamica is an evergreen perennial to 1.2 metres tall forming a large clump of silvery, sword-shaped leaves with panicles of small green flowers. Female plants develop orange berries. Astelia nervosa has edible fruits and a soft brown fibre which can be obtained from the leaves. Nervosa means ‘prominently veined’.

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Common Name: Maori Flax & Mountain Astelia/Bush Flax/Kakaha.

Family: ASTELIACEAE

Region: New Zealand

More Information: The Plant List


Bomarea edulis ‘Salsilla’

Image of Sasilla, Bomaria edulis

Banks collected this edible plant near Santa Cruz. Named at first as an Alstroemeria, it differs from that genus in having tubers (which can be cooked and eaten), and in its climbing habit. There are 107 species of Bomarea, found mainly in tropical America. Most have twining stems and spectacular flowers. Some red ones are pollinated by humming birds.

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Common Name: Maori Flax & Mountain Astelia/Bush Flax/Kakaha.

Family: ALSTROEMERIACEAE

Region: South America & West Indies

More Information: The Plant List


Brachyglottis repanda ‘Frosty’

Brachyglottis repanda ‘Silver Waves’

Brachyglottis repanda ‘Sunshine’

Image of Brachyglottis repanda

The varieties in the garden are ‘Frosty’, ‘Silver Waves’ and ‘Sunshine’. B. repanda comes from New Zealand where the local name is Rangiora or Pukapuka. It has large, soft, velvety leaves hence it’s common name “Bushman’s toilet paper’! All parts of the plant are poisonous though it is said that a gum obtained from the plant can be chewed to sweeten the breath. Joseph Banks and his party saw this plant in Teoneroa, Tegadu Bay and Ooperage in late 1769.
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Common Name: Bushman’s Friend.

Family: COMPOSITAE

Region: New Zealand

More Information: The Plant List


Callistemon citrinus ‘Splendens’

Callistemon viminalis

Image of Callistemon viminalis

Callistemums take their common name ‘Bottlebrush’ from the shape of their flowers. It is found in the temperate regions of Australia, mostly on the east coast and in the south west. Joseph Banks and his party saw this at Botany Bay in April and May 1770, yet it was 1789 before it reached Kew Gardens, grown from seed collected in the Australian Penal Colonies. By the 1790s it was available from most London nurseries. The flowers produce a profusion of triple-celled seed capsules around the flower stems which remain on the plant until it either dies or they are released by fire. The leaves can be used as an infusion to make a refreshing drink. The crushed leaves smell of lemons, while the flowers can be used in dye making. Callistemums enjoy moist conditions..


Common Name: Lemon Bottlebrush, Weeping Bottlebrush

Family: MYRTACEAE

Region: Australia

More Information: The Plant List


Chaenomoles speciosa ‘Splendens’

Image of Chaenomeles x superba

Chaenomeles speciosa is from China and it is from this variety that many garden hybrids are descended. Introduced to Kew by Sir Joseph Banks in 1796 it became hugely popular because of its ability to flower from January to June. The fruits make excellent jam and jelly as they contain more pectin than apples and more vitamin C than lemons.
Chaenomoles x superba ‘Crimson and Gold’, here in the garden, is a hybrid between C. speciosa and C. japonica.


Common Name: Japanese Quince

Family: ROSACEAE

Region: Asia

More Information: The Plant List


Coprosma repens ‘Lemon and Lime’

Image of Coprosma repens

A complex genus, Coprosma contains over 90 tender evergreen species, about half being native to New Zealand. The flowers are insignificant but the foliage is attractive and the fruit is a non-poisonous, juicy berry. Joseph Banks and his party recorded 8 species, acerosa, australis, baueri, clueida, propinqua, repens, robusta and spathulata in New Zealand between late 1769 and early 1770. Coprosmas are related to coffee and it is said that coffee can be made from the seeds.

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Common Name: Mirror Plant

Family: RUBIACEAE

Region: New Zealand

More Information: The Plant List


Cordyline australis

Image of Cordyline Australis


A New Zealand plant commonly known as ‘Cabbage Tree’. The name derives from the Greek ‘kordyle’ meaning a club which refers to its underground rhizomes. Australis is Latin for southern. The Cordyline is a characteristic feature of the New Zealand landscape and it can grow up to 20 metres tall, whilst its leaves can reach 1 metre in length. An adaptable tree, its appearance varies according to the climatic and geographic features of its environment, dry or swampy, flat or mountainous. It is a very old tree, a relic of the Miocene era of 15 million years ago. The tree can renew itself after a fire, as the underground rhizomes are protected from damage. Cordylines also contain oils which slow down the rotting process in the dead and fallen leaves and these leaves eventually form a mat which prevents seeds from other plants germinating close by. To the Maoris, mainly in the south island, the Cordyline was much valued as a food plant, the underground rhizomes being steamed and eaten as a vegetable. The growing tip, prized for its medicinal properties, is said to cleanse the blood and act as a tonic. The leaves can be crushed and applied as a compress, to cuts, cracked skin and sore hands. The seeds are high in the essential fatty acid, linoleic acid and these seeds are much loved by the New Zealand pigeon and other native birds which Maoris would catch and eat. The fibres of the Cordyline are strong and were used to make anchor ropes and fishing lines which needed to be durable and waterproof. It was also used for making waterproof capes and other textiles, also baskets and sandals.

Common Name: Cabbage Tree

Family: ASPARAGACEAE

Region: New Zealand

More Information: The Plant List


Correa backhouseana

Image of Correa backhouseana

This plant was seen by Banks and his party at Botany Bay in April – May 1770 and was named after José Francisco Correa de Serra, a Portuguese botanist. Correa is one of the hardiest of Australian plants and occurs in sandy or rocky places in coastal areas of SE Australia. It is a shrub which can grow to about 1.5 metres. The leaves are sometimes used as a tea substitute which is pleasantly aromatic and sweet. The Correa in the garden is C. backhouseana.


Common Name: Backhouse Australian Fuchsia

Family: RUTACEAE

Region: Australia

More Information: The Plant List


Dianella caerulea

Image of Dianella caerulea

Dianella caerula is commonly known as the Blue Flax Lily, the Blueberry Lily and the Paroo Lily. The name comes from the Roman goddess Diana with the added diminutive ‘ella’. It was seen by the Banks party at the Endeavour River in June-August 1770 and was introduced into Britain in 1771. It grows well under cultivation and is now seen in many gardens. Dianella is an evergreen, herbaceous perennial growing up to 1 metre tall. It has blue flowers in the spring followed by beautiful, metallic indigo blue berries. There are many forms of this plant throughout Australia.

Dianella tasmanica, the Tasmanian Flax Lily, grows in shady spots in wet forest environments. Though the berries are not edible, some have been known to boil the leaves to drink as an infusion. The leaves produce a strong silky fibre which is used for basket making.


Common Name: Blue Flax Lily

Family: XANTHORRHOEACEAE

Region: Australia

More Information: The Plant List


Dicksonia antarctica

Image of Dicksonia antarctica

Is found in Australia and New Zealand and is known as Man Fern or Soft Tree Fern. Dicksonia antartica can grow to 30 metres tall. The soft, starchy pith in the crown is edible, raw or roasted in ashes. It was named after James Dickson 1738-1822, one of the founders, along with Sir Joseph Banks, of the Horticultural Society (later the Royal Horticultural Society) in 1804.

Common Name: Soft Tree Fern

Family: DICKSONIACEAE

Region: New Zealand & Australia

More Information: The Plant List


Escallonia ‘Iveyi’

Escallonia rubra ‘Crimson Spire’

Image of Escallonia 'Iveyi'

These shrubs are mostly evergreen and range in height from 5-8 ft. They are tolerant of wind and salt spray, making them ideal for seaside gardens. Joseph Banks and his party saw Escallonia serrata in Tierra del Fuego in 1768.

Common Name: Escallonia hybrid cultivar

Family: ESCALLONIACEAE

Region: Tierra del Fuego

More Information: The Plant List


Eucalyptus mitchelliana

Image of Eucalyptus mitchelliana

When the Endeavour landed on the east coast of Australia, Joseph Banks and his group saw many different species of Eucalyptus and were the first Europeans to come across these trees that are some of the tallest hardwoods in the world. One species, which exuded a red resin when wounded, was named ‘gum tree’, Eucalyptus gummifera. The seeds of this tree survived the Endeavour voyage and were successfully introduced to England. Eucalyptus is a very economical plant, a fast-growing source of hardwood. Its oil can be used as a cleanser and is also a natural insecticide. As Eucalyptus needs a lot of water the trees can be used for draining swamps. The sap which exudes from the trunk, often where insects have made holes, dries in sugary white drops which are very tasty. The heavy bark is used for making bowls and dishes and the bark is also substantial enough to make canoes which can be up to 3 metres long. The fine, hard wood was also ideal for spears, shields and boomerangs.

Eucalyptus pauciflora niphophila is a smaller hardier variety which grows in areas over 5,000ft where snow lies all winter. The first Australian plant which could be bought in an English nursery was Eucalyptus oblique from the William Malcolm Nursery in London.


Common Name: Buffalo Sallee

Family: MYRTACEAE

Region: Australia

More Information: The Plant List


Fuchsia magellanica ‘Alba’

Image of Fuchsia magellanica 'Alba'

This Fuchsia is a native of southern South America and is named after the Straits of Magellan which separates Tierra del Fuego from the mainland. Joseph Banks would have seen this plant on his brief and hazardous visit. Two servants died and Daniel Solander nearly died after an unexpected cold snap and blizzards hit the island. Fuchsias are named after Leonhart Fuchs, (1501-65) a German professor of Medicine and a botanist. F. Magellanica was introduced to England in 1788 and it is believed to be the fuchsia that Joseph Banks carried, on his head, into the greenhouse at Kew so that no one else might touch it until he had examined it.

Common Name: Hummingbird Fuchsia

Family: ONAGRACEAE

Region: South America

More Information: The Plant List


Gunnera magellanica

Image of Gunnera manicata

Joseph Banks saw 2 varieties, of Gunnera, G. magellanica and G. lobata, at the Bay of Good Success, Tierra del Fuego, in 1768. G. magellanica grows to only 6 inches high, while G. lobata is even smaller. In the tribute garden is G. manicata, from Brazil, a giant in comparison which can grow to around 2 metres tall and wide given the right swampy conditions.


Common Name: Baby Gunnera, Giant Rhubarb

Family: Gunneraceae

Region: Tierra del Fuego

More Information: The Plant List


Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Sir Joseph Banks’

Image of Hydrangea macrophylla

The first mention of Hydrangea was in 1777 when it was named Viburnum macrophyllum by Carl Per Thunberg who was visiting Japan at that time. The first Hydrangea in Britain had been sent from China in 1788 to Joseph Banks who presented it to Kew. In 1792 it was put into the genus Hydrangea and was described as Hydrangea hortensis. It is now known as Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Sir Joseph Banks’. When this Hydrangea became established it caused a sensation because it changed colour from pink to blue. Even more special was the fact that it came from China where foreigners and travellers were confined to the compound of the East India Company in Canton and were not allowed the freedom to travel or collect any kind of specimen.


Common Name: Lacecap Hydrangea

Family: HYDRANGEACEAE

Region: Japan

More Information: The Plant List


Indigofera heterantha

Image of Indigofera heterantha

Joseph Banks saw several species of Indigofera in Australia. Indigofera australis was a useful plant in that the crushed leaves were used to stun or kill eels and fish. Indigofera is represented in the garden by I.heterantha a hardier variety from Nepal. The flowers of I. heterantha can be boiled and pickled while the branches are used in basket making and even for making bridges!

Common Name: Himalayan Indigo

Family: LEGUMINOSAE

Region: Asia

More Information: The Plant List


Kniphofia ‘Bees Lemon’

Kniphofia ‘Strawberries and Cream’

Image of Kniphofia

Named in honour of Johann Hieronymus Kniphof, 1704-1763, professor of medicine at Erfurt University Germany. Kniphofia rooperi was found in South Africa by Francis Masson and is one 400 species credited to him.

Common Name: Red-hot Poker

Family: XANTHORRHOEACEAE

Region: South Africa

More Information: The Plant List


Leptospermum scoparium ‘Red Damask’

Image of Leptospermum scoparium

The well-known ‘Tea Tree’, it is not related to Camellia sinensis the true tea plant. The name was given by Cook and his crew who used the leaves to make ‘tea’ when they landed in New Zealand and Australia in the belief that this tea would protect them against scurvy. Most Leptospermums are from Australia but L. scoparium, or ‘Manuka’ is the New Zealand Tea Tree. Australia has its own version of Tea Tree, Melaleuca alternifolia, a variety of the ‘Paperbark’ tree. Both these trees contain essential oils which are used commercially to treat a variety of health problems. Joseph Banks and his group saw three varieties of Leptospermum at the Endeavour River in 1770, and the seeds collected there were some of the few to survive the voyage home.

Common Name: Tea Tree

Family: MYRTACEAE

Region: Australia and New Zealand

More Information: The Plant List


Libertia grandiflora

Image of Libertia grandiflora

Found in New Zealand, this is commonly known as Satin Flower. It grows alongside streams and within forests on the North Island and to the north of the South Island. Joseph Banks saw this in late 1769 to February 1770 at Tolega Bay, Opoorage and at Totara Nui.

Common Name: Satin Flower

Family: IRIDACEAE

Region: New Zealand

More Information: The Plant List


Macleaya cordata

Image of Macleaya cordata

A large herbaceous perennial growing to 2.5 m (8 ft) tall, with olive green leaves and airy panicles of buff-white flowers in summer

Common Name: Five-seeded Plume-poppy

Family: PAPAVERACAEA

Region: China and Japan

More Information: The Plant List


Olearia solandri

Image of Olearia solandri

From New Zealand its common name is Coastal Tree Daisy. It is wind tolerant but not frost tolerant. Given good conditions Olearia can grow to 20ft tall and its wood has been used as a veneer. However, according to the Global Compendium of Weeds, part of the Department of Agriculture, Western Australia, it is so invasive it has been given the status of ‘garden thug’. Also in the garden is Olearia ‘Combers Pink’.

Common Name: Coastal Daisy-bush

Family: COMPOSITAE

Region: New Zealand

More Information: The Plant List


Paeonia delavayii

Image of Paeonia delavayii

The Tree Peony or Moutan was the first paeony to be introduced to Kew. It was given by Joseph Banks who had received it from Dr John Duncan of the East India Company in 1787. It was the first Peony to survive transportation. Sadly it did not live long. A further consignment of 7 plants was sent off in 1794, probably procured by 2 brothers, Daniel and Thomas Beale, merchants in China and India. Thomas Beale had a home in Macao and sent these plants from his own garden. The journey back to England was a bad one and two of the shrubs died. The surviving plants were shared between George III and Sir Joseph. In China the Tree Peony was called the ‘King of Flowers’ and was a much cherished plant by the Chinese who grew them in pots for indoor decoration just as we grow poinsettias and spring flowering bulbs for winter colour.

Common Name: Tree Peony

Family: PAEONIACEAE

Region: China

More Information: The Plant List


Passiflora caerulea ‘Constance Elliott’

Image of Passiflora caerulea

On the Endeavour voyage, Joseph Banks saw 2 varieties of Passiflora, P. aurantia was seen in Australia at the Bay of Inlets in 1770 and P. tetrandra at Opoorage, New Zealand in 1769. Sydney Parkinson, in his reference notes describes P. aurantia thus, “leaves vivid grass green in small veins. The underside pale, glaucous the fruit pea green, tendrils brown. The middle lobe to make shorter.” Passion flowers have a reputation for calming, and an infusion at bedtime will aid sleep. The species does need to be studied further as the plant contains many potent chemicals which in turn need more research into their actions and properties. The name ‘Passion Flower’ refers to the passion of Jesus Christ. Spanish missionaries used the elements of the plant as symbols of the final days of Christ and the Crucifixion:

• The pointed tips of the leaves represent the Holy Lance
• The tendrils represent the whips used in the flagellation of Christ
• The ten petals and sepals represent the ten faithful apostles – Judas and Peter omitted
• The flower and radial filaments represent the Crown of Thorns
• The chalice shape of the ovary and its receptacle represent the Holy Grail
• The three stigmas represent the three nails, and the five anthers represent the wounds
• The blue and white colours represent Heaven and Purity


Common Name: Passion Flower

Family: PASSIFLORACEAE

Region: South America

More Information: The Plant List


Phormium colensoi

Phormium tenax ‘Cream Delight’

Image of Phormium colensoi

A well-known New Zealand plant locally known as ‘Harakeke’ to the Maoris who use the tough fibrous leaves for basket making, clothing, fishing nets and rope. The pollen is used as face powder and the roots are medicinal with good disinfectant qualities. The seeds have high levels of Omega 3, and because it is such a useful plant it is widely cultivated. Successfully established in some areas it has now become invasive and is considered a threat to more sensitive plants. In 1772 John Ellis, a London seed importer and member of the Royal Society, found seeds of Phormium still in Banks’s dried specimens and gave them out to several gardeners who successfully grew them on.


Common Name: New Zealand Flax

Family: XANTHORRHOEACEAE

Region: New Zealand

More Information: The Plant List


Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Garnettii’

Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Irene Paterson’

Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Tom Thumb’

Image of Pittosporum tenuifolium

The first recorded arrival of Pittosporum in England was P. coriaceum from Madeira in 1783, believed to have been collected by Francis Masson. The first Australian Pittosporum to arrive in England was P. ferrugineum in 1787. This had been seen and recorded by Joseph Banks in 1770 at Bustards Bay, Palm Island and the islands of Cape Fear. P. tenuifolium, which Banks recorded in New Zealand in1769, eventually arrived in London in 1804-1806. P tenuifolium is the ancestor from which the hardier hybrids, which we see today, have been developed. In Greek, the name describes the resinous coating of the seeds, pitta meaning pitch and sporum meaning seed.


Common Name: New Zealand Pittosporum

Family: PITTOSPORACEAE

Region: New Zealand

More Information: The Plant List


Plectranthus argentatus

Image of Plectranthus argentatus

Native to rock outcrops and rainforest in the border region of Queensland and New South Wales, Australia, a spreading deciduous shrub growing to 1 m (3 ft) tall. The hairy leaves are ovate to broad-ovate, with crenate margins. The hairs give the plant an overall sage green to silvery colour. The flowers are borne on terminal racemes up to 30 cm (12 in) long, and are bluish white. Originally described by Queensland botanist Stanley Thatcher Blake, its specific epithet argentatus is Latin for “silver”, referring to its foliage.


Common Name: Silver Spur Flower

Family: LAMIACEAE

Region: Australia

More Information: The Plant List


Prostanthera ‘Poorinda Ballerina’

Prostanthera cuneata

Image of Prostanthera cuneata

A native of SE Australia it is also known as Alpine Mint Bush or Rough Mint. The leaves have similar properties to mint and are antibacterial, antifungal and carminative. Its volatile oils include menthol and cineole. In the garden are P. cuneata and P. poorinda ‘Ballerina’.


Common Name: Hybrid Mint Bush, Australian Mint Bush

Family: LAMIACEAE

Region: S.E. Australia

More Information: The Plant List


Rosa banksiae ‘Alba Plena’

Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’

Image of Rosa banksiae

The first Banksian rose to be brought back to England was Rosa banksiae ‘Alba Plena’ which was found in a Canton garden by William Kerr who had been sent out to China through the East India Company. William Kerr was the first plant collector to reside in China for more than a few weeks, the Chinese at that time being unwilling to allow any botanical exports. The true species of the Banksian roses is thought to be Rosa banksiae ‘normalis’, the more familiar varieties being its offspring. R. banksiae normalis did not arrive in Europe until after the more well-known ‘Alba Plena’ and ‘Lutea’. The yellow version, ‘Lutea’ was discovered in 1824 and was the first yellow climbing rose to flower in Britain. Banksian roses are not fully hardy in the UK so they are usually well cherished and cared for. In warmer climates where the rose is fully hardy, it is almost a weed. The name R. banksiae was given to this rose in honour of Lady Banks.


Common Name: Double White Banksian Rose, Yellow Banksian Rose

Family: ROSACEAE

Region: China

More Information: The Plant List


Sophora microphylla ‘Sun King’

Sophora tetraptera

Image of Sophora microphylla

S.microphylla, commonly known as Kowhai, is an evergreen and was seen by Banks and his party in several places in New Zealand in 1769. The seeds were among the specimens brought back to England. Sophoras tend to have large flowers and coarse leaves. It is the national flower of New Zealand. Tetraptera, another Sophora seen by Banks, is the tallest. It has the largest flowers and leaves of all Sophoras. Tetraptera means ‘with a four-winged seed pod’.

Common Name: Kowhai

Family: LEGUMINOSAE

Region: New Zealand

More Information: The Plant List


Strelitzia reginae

Image of Strelitzia reginae

Francis Masson, who was sent out by Banks on Cook’s second circumnavigation of the world, collected this beautiful plant from South Africa and introduced it to Kew in 1773. But it did not flower until 17 years later, in 1790. It was Sir Joseph’s favourite plant and was named in honour of King George III’s wife, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. It is commonly known as the ‘Bird of Paradise Flower’.

Common Name: Bird of Paradise Flower

Family: STRELITZACEAE

Region: South Africa

More Information: The Plant List


Tulbaghia violacea

Image of Tulbaghia violacea

A strong-growing rhizomatous perennial up to 50 cm tall with grey-green basal leaves and pale purple-pink fragrant flowers in large terminal umbels in late summer and early autumn.

Common Name: Society Garlic

Family: AMARYLLIDACEAE

Region: South Africa

More Information: The Plant List


Uncinia uncinata

Image of Uncinia uncinata

From New Zealand, this beautiful sedge varies in colour tone. It forms arching tussocks of mahogany-brown narrow grass-like leaves, brightest when young, the whole effect very striking among other foliage.

Common Name: Hook Grass/Kamu

Family: CYPERACEAE

Region: New Zealand

More Information: The Plant List


Veronica perfoliata

Image of Veronica perfoliata

A native of Australia it is found mainly in New South Wales and Victoria. Formerly known as Parahebe perfoliata, and Derwentia perfoliata. Its common name is ‘Diggers Speedwell’. A sub-shrub with semi-woody stems and evergreen foliage of rounded blue-grey leaves which clasp the stems in opposite pairs making for a handsome. It has nodding sprays of bright blue flowers.

Common Name: Digger’s Speedwell

Family: PLANTAGINACEAE

Region: Australia

More Information: The Plant List


Zantedeschia aethiopica

Image of Zantedeschia aethiopica

A characteristic and beautiful species from the coastal and mountainous regions of South Africa not Ethiopia as the name would imply. The name is believed to commemorate the physician and botanist Giovanni Zantedeschi, 1773-1846. The seed was secretly collected by Francis Masson on his second trip to South Africa at a time when the Dutch were at war with the British and many areas were forbidden. The seeds were eventually brought back to Kew. It is commonly known as Arum Lily or Calla Lily. In fact, it is not a lily but an aroid with a white spathe surrounding the yellow spadix, or floral spike, which bears the tiny yellow flowers. It is useful in cleaning waste water and preventing algae growth.

Common Name: Calla Lily

Family: ARACEAE

Region: South Africa

More Information: The Plant List