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Fascicularia pitcairnifolia (Big Baboon's Bottom)

Below is the description under the closely related Fascicularia bicolor. The thing about this one is that although it’s less hardy (only suitable for seaside gardens and central London), it’s also bigger and more voluptuous and more exotic. The flowers also have similarities to baboon’s bottoms but even more so. Being bromeliads, they seem to get much of their moisture and nourishment from thin air so these are happier in a pot that anything we’ve ever come across. Imagine an exotic palm in a pot with these encircling it and reaching out over the edge of the pot. A fine sight.

The specific name ‘pitcairnifolia‘ refers to ‘having a leaf like’ a plant called Pitcairnia which isn’t even endemic to Pitcairn Island. Sorry to report that Fascicularia pitcairnifolia has nothing to do with Pitcairn Island, the Mutiny on the Bounty, Captain Bligh, Fletcher Christian or Marlon Brando.

Grows anywhere – in sun or shade. It’s a bromeliad so most of its close relatives live as epiphytes in trees in Central America so – given a bit of encouragement – will this. We’ve had one growing in the stump of the branch of an old oak for many years. It’s in deep shade so the leaves become huge and the whole plant from a distance has a spherical look. Extremely exotic and not what one expects in a Sussex wood. It forms clumps in the ground and flowers in the centre – electric blue and red. Baboon’s bottoms get mentioned a lot. This is the hardiest of all the bromeliads and comes from the high Andes in South America. When you see it flower, you’ll understand why it’s also related to the pineapple. Each rosette grows to about 1ft across – more if in deep shade. Not surprisingly, you could probably leave this in a pot for years.

Propagated by us by division.

Hardiness traffic light green

Hardiness level Red

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Hardy in Atlantic Seaboard gardens, The Channel Islands, gardens in Central London (and other large cities) and conservatories.

This is only meant as a guide; there are some plants with red labels that would only survive in extremely favoured spots such as The Isles of Scilly or coastal south-west Ireland.

We're always on hand to give advice about plants and their frost hardiness.

Please remember that these coloured labels are only a rough guide.

General Point about Plant Hardiness: The commonly held belief that it's better to 'plant small' is perfectly true with herbaceous plants, but not necessarily true with woody plants. They need some 'wood' on them to survive severe cold - so plants of marginal hardiness in very cold areas should really be planted LARGER, rather than smaller, wherever possible.