Monday, April 16, 2012

Counting my 'Fingers'

Small Schefflera from Zambales probably S. microphylla
Plant from Palaui seeds
From a garden in Ilocos
Schefflera is a genus popular in landscape. Species like Schefflera actinophylla and S. arboricola are well known world wide as ornamental plants even suitable for indoor use. Some Philippine natives like S. blancoi and S. odorata have long been established as garden plants in Metro Manila. Most ornamental Schefflera varieties have gone to be known as 5 fingers, 6 fingers, 7 fingers etc. depending on the number of individual leaflets there are in terminal whorls. Most local species are referred to as galamay amo. 'Galamay' is a vernacular term for appendage or extremity, still near the concept of fingers.

Simple-leafed species from Quezon
Species used in Ayala Triangle

Apart from the 2 mentioned native species, there are a few other natives which were also introduced into the garden trade.  Some of them became popular but mostly are grown exclusively by collectors who can differentiate them from the more common Schefflera odorata.  In looking around in garden shops and private collections for almost a decade, I have acquired a few of these and tested whether they would fare well in an urban garden like mine. After years of experimenting, about a handful have been proven to thrive in hot Metro Manila besides S. blancoi and  S. odorata.  Problem is they are hard to name and identify.

What they call Starshine might be S. albidobracteata
Schefflera plants generally are easy to propagate either from seeds and even from cuttings. They are easy to care for but quite slow growing.  But neglected specimens tend to get leggy and tall.  They should be trimmed and kept low.  Trimming regularly would make the plant bushy therefore more attractive.  Cut stems could be used as propagation material.

Common S. odorata
Like most members of the Aralia family, Schefflera species love moisture. Smaller species would grow well as understory plants, but would tolerate partial shade as long as the soil is kept to retain good amounts of water.   

3 comments:

Plant Chaser said...

Hmm. I should try my hand and green thumb at growing fingers then. ;-)

metscaper said...

Ang bilis mo magbasa. Not yet finished posting and editing.

The Buskalo Kid said...

We used to have an unattended, wildly-growing S. odorata in our backyard. It looks good when it bears red and orange fruits.