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Weird and Wonderful Flowers - Exotic Tree Dahlia

Our weird and wonderful flowers blog each week takes a look at a species or two of flowers that the majority of people would not have any clue even existed. From rare and exotic species to ones which have evolved highly unique mechanisms to increase their chances of survival, each week we bring you a highly unique and interesting plant to help increase your interesting flower knowledge. Today were going to look at a plant that has seen the benefit of our rather warm autumn this year, the exotic tree dahlia.

Native to Mexico, Colombia and regions of Central America the tree dahlia is not really a tree but a tuberous perennial like other plants in the dahlia family. However it can grow as big as most trees with this amazing plant reaching heights of 20ft to even 30ft under the most favourable of conditions which occur in the uplands and mountains at around 1500-1700 metres high. There are two very impressive things about this plant its growth speed and its flowers. The tree dahlia is incredibly impressive in how fast it can grow, with its thick bamboo like stems and tropical foliage this plant is a real head turner as it noticeably monsters upwards. The stems which can be around 4 inches in diameter at the base and hallow are tremendously strong for being able to keep the plant vertical. The stems themselves where used by the ancient Aztec people for carrying water due to their light weight and durable properties.

As well as its shear size the flowers the dahlia produces are beautiful. Measuring around 6 inches in diameter the flowers are a soft shade of pink with a rich orange centre grow on sprays which can be up to 3 ft across and filled with multiple flowers all of which look down on the garden. One of the problems gardeners find growing this plant outside of its native climate is that since it blooms late in the year around November to December and not very hardy the first frost generally kills all the flowers and gardeners must wait till next year. This problem occurred in the UK to a dahlia in the grounds of Bicton College in Devon which has failed to bloom for 20 years  but this year, due to the warmer autumn bloomed for the first time with over 100 stunning flowers!!

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