The Chilean lantern tree. Picture by Peganum
GREAT age does not stand in the way of Bill Shepard’s keen interest in trees and shrubs.
He continues to seek out the unusual in his walkabouts and came across something which is fairly rare in these parts because this tree is not keen on the cold.
It was in bloom back in June at the back of the IW Society for the Blind’s HQ in Carisbrooke and therefore shielded from regular public gaze.
Bill said: "I don’t know if you are familiar with this but it is certainly my first encounter with the species."
I wasn’t familiar with it but I knew a man who would be.
Chris Kidd, the curator of Ventnor Botanic Garden, said: "It is crinodendron hookerianum, the Chilean lantern tree.
"Named after Hooker Snr’s wife (Hooker Snr was then the director of Kew), it likes a moist, acid soil ideally and is not keen on the cold.
"We do OK with it at the garden but it would rather be over Bembridge way."
Crinodendron are evergreen shrubs or small trees, with leathery, dark green leaves and nodding, urn-shaped flowers in the leaf axils, hence the lantern nickname.
This dense evergreen shrub will reach six metres in height with rigid, narrow, dark green leaves and fleshy, lantern-shaped, crimson flowers 2.5cm in length appearing from late spring to late summer.