Ixora or Jungle Geranium

Ixora is a genus of a flowering shrub from the Rubiaceae family. There are hundreds of species and cultivated varieties that grow in numerous tropical gardens throughout the world. Perhaps the most popular among them is an ixora commonly referred to as jungle geranium or jungle flame  (Ixora coccinea), a plant native to southern India and Sri Lanka, but now inexorably (pun intended) grown as an ornamental especially for its numerous showy flowers and excellent quality as a hedge. The flowers come in many different colours, including scarlet, red, pink and yellow, thus providing a lovely contrast to its glossy, oblong leaves.

Jungle geranium (Ixora coccinea)

Although flowering throughout the year, the jungle geranium really comes to life during the hottest summer months when many other flowering plants struggle to cope with hot and dry weather under a direct sunlight. Not ixora. On the contrary, its flowers strive to the point that they often completely cover the leaves below! It’s an wonderful sight that explains its enormous popularity by many house owners here in southern Taiwan. The shrub is equally well represented in municipal parks and public gardens, and it is often planted alongside roads and major streets all over the island.

Jungle geranium (Ixora coccinea)

Once planted, the ixora tends to propagate naturally from fallen seeds, but it’s a very slow grower and it generally needs several years before it starts branching out and producing flowers. It is also susceptible to diseases (or insect attacks, possibly by the Asian long-horned beetle larvae), so the trunk of the shrub needs to be regularly sprayed with insecticides in this part of the world. Once attacked, the density of branches thins out considerably which makes the bush look a lot less attractive than a healthy one. On the positive side, the flamboyant blossom tends to attract many large and colourful butterflies as shown in the photographs below.

Jungle geranium (Ixora coccinea)

Jungle geranium (Ixora coccinea)

Jungle geranium (Ixora coccinea)

 

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