Franklinia alatamahaA late fall visit to the only Franklinia alatamaha in Central Park.Franklinia alatamahaThis tree is considered extinct in the wild, yet survives as an ornamental through the trade and botanical institutions. Its original range was quite limited, in the Altamaha River valley of Georgia. We’re definitely north of that, but a wait a bit… by mid-century NYC will have the same climate that Norfolk, VA, has now. Georgia can’t be far behind.william_bartram01William Bartram‘s 1782 illustration of the scrumptious flower. He and his father John, botanists who explored the southeast in the 1760s and 1770s, were the first Europeans to collect and record the plant. It was named in honor of their fellow Philadelphian Ben Franklin.

William described the tree as “of the first order for beauty and fragrance of blossoms.” And that “we never saw it grow in any other place, nor have I ever seen it growing wild, in all my travels” other than that small patch of Georgia. I’ve personally seen one other in NYC, in the Native Flora section of the NYBG. According their on-line database, the BBG has one amid the Hostas north of the Rock Garden.

3 Responses to “Franklinia”

  1. 1 crystalhrogers December 27, 2016 at 9:04 am

    I have tried 3 different times to grow the Franklin tree, without success. The plant died within 2 years of being planted. The third one did live to produce 2 flowers, then died. I am not that far (250 mi) from the origin of the tree and practically on the same parallel. I am farther from the coast and the soil is clay here so I amended the soil. I was told it might be because of a fungus associated with cotton that the tree succumbed so the last time I applied a soil drench. No use. Whenever I hear anything about the Franklin tree, it’s liable to start me up again.

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