The Golden Lotus (Musella lasiocarpa)

Let me write about one plant that one may have spotted on sale in local nurseries for the Chinese New Year festive season some time back. 

Referred to as the “Golden Lotus”, it is one plant you either you like it or hate it. Some people think it looks wierd and out of this world. This year, however, there were less of these on sale this year at the festive plant market. 

This plant is not anywhere close in terms of relationship with the lotus we see growing in the pond. In fact, it is a closer relative to the true banana plant. What you saw as the “golden lotus flower” is the inflorescence of this banana ally. Scientifically known as Musella lasiocarpa, it hails from Kunming, the capital of Yunnan, growing up to 2,500 metres above sea level. It is also the only species in the genus Musella.

Sounds temperate and cold isn’t it? But I was quite surprised to read in this article published on AsiaOne.com which was written by my gardening friends from the Singapore Gardening Society, Victor and Gloria. In the article, they detailed their success in growing this banana in Singapore!

This is a piece of good news as this plant would not join the gang of festive plants that you buy-display-and-throw type. If you wanna buy this plant to try out next Chinese New Year, find out more by reading the article penned by Victor and Gloria via this weblink:

http://wineanddine.asiaone.com/Wine%252CDine%2B%2526%2BUnwind/Unwind/Gardening/Plants/Flowering/Story/A1Story20070519-5911.html

Below are two pictures that I took whilst I was walking through the nurseries during the period where plants for Chinese New Year were imported for sale:

 

The plant is often sold stripped of all its banana-like leaves, leaving only the bright yellow lotus-like inflorescence stuck on a thick pseudostem. Look out for suckers emerging from the base of the plant – these can be used as new propagation material.

The bees locally seem to like the true flowers of this banana ally. They can be seen in swarms in the inflorescence!

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2 responses to “The Golden Lotus (Musella lasiocarpa)

  1. Hi Wilson,

    I have been looking for Momo Botan Lotus in many nursery shops in Singapore, seems they don’t know how to grow – never flower and mostly not survive!!

    Do you know where I can buy a good Lotus and ready to plant in bowl pot?

    Thank you
    Mayang

  2. hello ….i live in London where our temperatures swing around wildly from warm to cold,hence i struggle growing my subtropical garden. BUT no probs with lasiocarpa “grows like a weed”…good to know! that you true tropical people have problems too.

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