New National Plant Collection of Codonopsis for Plant Heritage

Plant Heritage is delighted to welcome a new National Collection of Codonopsis to its Nationwide scheme.                                                        (Image copyright Mike Ireland)

The Collection has been established by Lincolnshire couple Ann and Bob Armstrong, who have been growing the plants since the 1990’s after they sowed some seeds and fell in love with the delicacy of the flowers. When a former National Collection Holder retired, the couple saved many of his seeds and started their own Collection in earnest. Other seeds have been sourced from botanic gardens and specialist nurseries. Adding to the Collection is not easy as over half of the 60+ members of the genus are not in cultivation in the UK. Bob and Ann are keen to source the species C. bhutanica, dicentrifolia, thalictrifolia, canescens, nervosa, meleagris, bulleyana and foetens.
 
The Collection now consists of 27 species, and the couple have a further six plants they are waiting to flower before they can identify them properly. It has been a slow process and not a project for the impatient as each plant takes up to three years to flower. “The seedlings are prone to dying” says Bob. Identification has been a key issue in establishing the National Collection and Bob is keen to help others by establishing a web-based picture gallery.
Codonopsis is a genus of flowering plant within the Campanulaceae family and originates from Asia, Pakistan, Japan and Korea. It has historically been used in Chinese medicine where the tubers are used as an anti-inflammatory as well as a treatment for stress, diabetes, fatty liver and low immunity. It is also thought to boost memory and promote mental sharpness.   
 
Speaking on the announcement of this new Collection Plant Heritage Conservation Officer Mercy Morris said: “Codonopsis are a fascinating and beautiful genus, and I would encourage anyone who is able to help source plants for Bob and Ann to do so. The more research they are able to do as Collection Holders, the more future horticulturists will benefit.”
 
The Armstrong’s will be opening the Collection to the public on Sunday 15th June from 11am – 5pm. Refreshments will be available. For details of the opening see: http://www.nccpg.com/Events/Codonopsis-Open-Day-(3).aspx

Image copyright Mike Ireland
 
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