Kew today - Escape the winter chill in Kew's Palm House

Escape the cold at Kew Gardens and discover our amazing plants in flower in the Palm House.

13 Jan 2010

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Snow surrounds the Palm House at Kew

Escape the winter chill in Kew's Palm House

Wes and Scott, the Palm House staff, are undertaking their annual pruning and clear-up at the moment, and can often be found high up in the canopy wielding secateurs and pruning saws. Due to the snow, several members of Kew's Arboretum team have swapped their fleeces for t-shirts to give them a hand. Find out more below about some interesting plants that are flowering at the moment.

The calabash nutmeg
The calabash nutmeg, Monodora myristica, is in the same family as the custard apple. Image available on Kew Images.

The calabash nutmeg

The calabash nutmeg, Monodora myristica, is in the same family as the custard apple and is native to West Africa where it can reach a height of 30 metres. The plant has huge leaves and incredibly beautiful fragrant flowers with frilly edges. The seeds are a substitute for nutmeg, and are widely used in Nigeria in soups and stews as well as in cakes. Medicinally, it is used externally to treat headaches and it is believed that toothache can be relieved by chewing the root. The seeds can also be used as rosary beads.

Deherainia smaragdina
Deherainia smaragdina emits an unpleasant smell, similar to stinky cheese. (Image: James Morley, RBG Kew)

Deherainia smaragdina

This unusual shrub from Central America has extraordinary green flowers; in fact 'smaragdina' means emerald. But get closer at your peril - like other fly-pollinated plants it emits a particularly unpleasant smell, similar to a rather stinky cheese.

Arenga ambong

Now known as Arenga undulatifolia, this palm is widely distributed throughout Borneo, Indonesia and the Philippines. The leaves have attractive wavy edges and, like the caryota or fishtail palm, the inflorescences are huge and the flowering stem dies after flowering. Kew's specimen in the Palm House is flowering at the moment, and should bloom for some time before finally dying.

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