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A Plant That Enjoys Tobacco

The 400-acre wooded demesne of Glin Castle, situated on the banks of the Shannon estuary in Co. Limerick, with its 12 acres of pleasure gardens, saw the annual “Rare & Special Plant Fair” taking place on Sunday May 12th last.

‘Sparmania’

One of the beautiful rare plants on show at this event was ‘Sparmania’, latter a species of flowering plant in the family Malvaceae, native to open woodland in Africa, South Africa and Madagascar. The genus name is called after Anders Sparrman, a Swedish naturalist, tutor, abolitionist, ships doctor and a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, (1748-1820).


Pictures L-R. [1] Sparmania [2] Swedish Naturalist Anders Sparrman (1748-1820).

According to the well-respected, dare I say Bible, known as Hillier Manual of Trees & Shrubs ( Hillier / Lancaster), the Sparmania shrub(pictured above) is described as a large, stellately-hairy, apple-green shrub of vigorous habit. Leaves are large, often 30cm (11ins) or more across, palmately-lobed. Flowers are white 4cm wide, with yellow stamens (the pollen-producing reproductive organ of a flower).

This plant is regarded as an excellent conservatory shrub.

While grateful for this description, it was the further information supplied that appealed more to me, as a former restaurant and hotel employee. How often have I watched patrons stub their cigarettes butts out in flower pots used to decorate reception areas / lobbies, same leading eventually to the tragic demise of expensive plants.

Hotels and Restaurants take note: Sparmania, according to the Hillier Manual of Trees & Shrubs, thrives on, wait for it, “on discarded cigarette and cigar-ends, together with tea and coffee dregs, as found in poor quality cafés”. [Not that I have ever worked in poor quality cafés, I’ll have you to note and fully understand.]

What’s more, you don’t have to wait for next year’s “Rare & Special Plant Fair” in Glinn Castle, Co Limerick. No, you can buy your Sparmania shrub right here in the Cathedral Town, from Seamus O’Driscoll’s, Garden Centre, on the Mill Road, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

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