Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Plant that Ate Oregon

If I must say so myself, I do a good job of keeping my other major interest (gardening) out of this blog. However, I saw something today that I have to post here despite that restriction.

Last night I stayed at McMenamin's Edgefield, just outside of Portland, Oregon (more to come on this visit in a future post). Their grounds are blessed with extensive gardens that almost never see a temperature below freezing and that get 50 inches of rain a year. In other words, they have almost nothing in common with the gardens I'm used to seeing in Minnesota.

As I was wandering through the plants, I looked around a corner and saw this monster:

Giant green plant with smaller plants in foreground
I estimate it was about 12 feet wide and 9 or 10 feet tall. Those red plants in the foreground are over 3 feet tall and wide.

Closer up of the plant, showing vertical green bottlebrushes below the leaves
Check out the flowers down below, if that's what they are!

Close up of the green bottlebrush
It's about 5 feet tall.

Wide green leaf
The largest leaf was over 5 feet wide.

Leaf emerging like a tightly wrapped fist
And there was an emerging leaf that was really cool looking.

Pointy green thorns on green wide stems
Plus it had these charming, small thorns on all the stems.

So what the heck is it? Time for the interweb to come to rescue.

Googling images of "giant plant" brought me to this post about a plant that looks the same, and calls it Giant Gunnera, native to Costa Rica, Colombia and Brazil. It doesn't mention the green flowers, though. But checking the Wikipedia entry on Gunnera makes me even surer that it's the same plant, although I'm not sure what species.

Tomorrow, back to our regularly scheduled programming.