Abutilon × suntense C. Brickell

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Genus

Glossary

hybrid
Plant originating from the cross-fertilisation of genetically distinct individuals (e.g. two species or two subspecies).
indumentum
A covering of hairs or scales.
simple
(of a leaf) Unlobed or undivided.
stellate
Star-shaped.

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A group of hybrids between A. vitifolium and A. ochsenii. The type is more or less intermediate between the two parents, with a mixed indumentum of stellate hairs (as in A. vitifolium) and simple ones (as in the other parent), and also intermediate between them in the density of the indumentum of the upper leaf-surface, petioles and young branchlets. The flowers are smaller than in A. vitifolium, but somewhat larger than in A. ochsenii, and are typically a fairly deep mauvish blue, as in the latter species, but without the darker markings in the centre.

This hybrid first came to notice when Geoffrey Gorer of Sunte House, Haywards Heath, sent flowering specimens to Wisley from a plant which he had raised from seeds of A. vitifolium album, obtained from Messrs Thompson and Morgan of Ipswich early in the 1960s. This firm had received the seeds from the garden at Highdown, Sussex, created by Sir Frederick Stern, where A. ochsenii was also grown. However, Highdown was not the only garden in which this cross occurred. It did so also in B. H. Tompsett’s garden at Crittenden House, Kent, and was made deliberately by Messrs Hillier.

Although not so fine a shrub as A. vitifolium, the hybrid is an improvement on the other parent and perhaps hardier than either species. A. × suntense grows very rapidly in height in its first few seasons, and needs firm staking if not placed against a wall, although it can be made more bushy by pruning as soon as the flowers have faded. Like its parents, the hybrid is easily raised from cuttings taken at any time during the growing season. Seedlings from self-pollinated plants are likely to vary, and there may be some white-flowered plants among them and others with larger flowers than in the type. For further information, see the original description by C D. Brickell in Journ. R.H.S., Vol. 96, pp. 274-80 (1971), and the further note on pp. 426-7 of the same volume. Also the note by Brian Halliwell in The Garden (Journ. R.H.S.), Vol. 110, pp. 337-9 (1985).

Two clones have been named by Messrs Hillier from their deliberate cross – ‘Jermyns’ with rich mauve flowers, and ‘White Charm’ with white ones.

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