ACAENA

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Pronunciation: (a-kee-na)
Family: Bidi Bidi, New Zealand Burr, ROSACEAE

Unlike most other members of the rose family, Acaena has no petals to its flowers, In fact, the very name comes from the ancient Greek akanthos, meaning a thorn. Not that they are spiny plants — they just look it. Each inflorescence consists of a number of petal-less flowers, arranged so that their colourful stamens point outward in all directions like a spiny dandelion puffball or surrealistic modern fountain.

There are some 60 species of these dwarf, ground-covering plants, all looking exceedingly attractive planted between stones or spilling over flat, gravelly surfaces. They blanket the ground completely with tiny, compound, evergreen rose-like leaves, sending up their puffball flower clusters on slender stems.

They are reasonably frost hardy, and better suited to cool temperate climates in open sunny positions. The illustrated Acaena ovalifolia, however, looks best in semi-shade. Most varieties are from New Zealand; a few are South American in origin. Propagate from cuttings.

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