Memecylon umbellatum Burm.f. (Melastomataceae): A wild plant with a landscape potential

The landscape industry is continuously in need of novel and exciting material to maintain the viability. As a result, exotic plants are being introduced at an accelerated rate. Some of these plants have escaped from man made landscapes and invaded into natural areas causing detrimental damage to the biodiversity. As a solution, floristic wealth of the Sri Lankan flora can be successfully tapped to introduce native plants to the landscape industry. The present study was conducted with the objective of identifying the landscape potential and a method of propagation of a wild plant Memecylon umbellatum in order to introduce it to the landscape industry in Sri Lanka.

The landscape potential of the plant was studied and the phenological observations were made over a year at Makandura. The propagation experiment included nine treatment combinations viz. three types of cuttings (softwood, softwood with a portion of hardwood, and hardwood) vs three types of media (sand, sand + coir dust (1:1) and sand + coir dust + top soil (1:1:1)) arranged in a randomized complete block design with three blocks. Twentyone stem cuttings of 20cm in length were used in a single plot to represent a treatment combination. The data were analyzed using CATMODE procedure.
Memecylon umbellatum produce attractive, violet blue flowers four times a year and during mass flowering 80% flower coverage was recorded. Flowering at a population level extends up to three weeks. Fruits are also attrac tive and maturation period is 20 days. Therefore, this plant can be used in landscaping for its aesthetic beauty, as a hedge and to make topiary. Significantly high rooting percentage (92%) and root dry weights were recorded in softwood cuttings with a portion of hardwood grown in sand medium. Therefore, it can be recommended as a propagule to introduce this plant as a landscape plant. The plant occurs naturally in wet, intermediate and dry zone and therefore, can be used as a landscape plant in all the three major climatic zones of the country.

R.M.M.A. Ratnayake, K. Yakandawala and M.P.I. Senarathne
Department of Horticulture and Landscape Gardening, Wayamba University of Sri Lanka

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