Growing wild on Sequoia you will find this remarkable colour combination: a flower of the most vivid magenta held in luminescent brick-red cups. Startling it is, and beautiful. The Wild Tibouchina, Dissotis canescens, is well named, for the intensity of its petal colour is very similar to the real Tiboushina. Indeed, they both belong to the family MELASTOMATACEAE, but that is as far as I can comment, for unlike something like the BEGONIACEAE where I can nod along sagely and say “A, yes, the Begonia family” and at least have a picture in my head, the family MELASTOMATACEAE contains only two names I’ve ever heard before: Dissotis and Tibouchina. Perhaps there is a path worth following here, for I suspect I will stumble upon a garden of tropical magnificence… Ah yes. And then not be able to grow it… Below are pictures I took in a nearby sub-tropical garden of the two colour forms of one of the most spectacular of all flowering trees: the Brazilian Tibouchina granulosa.
The pink can be dismissed as ‘just a pink’, but the purple is more than purple: it is as though the richest red chiffon has been overlaid with the richest blue, and the two colours jar and shimmer in forming purple.
Compared to these magnificent trees, my little perennials are slight. But a few years back I spread seed in the boggy ground around the water of Freddie’s Dam, which they love, and this summer saw thirty or more plants in flower – and each year there will now be more. We are moving from a local who hid away from visitors, to one of the stars of our show.
Close-ups, above of our Dissotis and below of the much larger flower of Tibouchina granulosa again make their relationship clear.
To see more wild flowers from around the world, visit the blogs participating every month in Wild Flower Wednesday, an event started by Gail of Clay and Limestone.