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Monocotyledon Border

Flowering plants are divided into two types. Monocotyledons have a single seed leaf (cotyledon) and dicotyledons have two such embryonic leaves.

Purple orchid flowers

Did you know?

  • Tony Schilling was in charge of the gardens at Wakehurst Place between 1967 and 1991. The Tony Schilling Asian Heath Garden is named after him.
  • Kew has specialist teams of scientists that study groups of monocot plants. For example, some of its researchers are studying species of yams from Madagascar. Kew also publishes the World Checklist of Monocots, which provides information on plant names, locations of habitats and current opinions on taxonomy. 

General information

The ‘monocots’ include some 75,000 species, divided between 97 families. Among them are the staple grass crops, such as rice, wheat and barley, along with other important foods including onions, yams, bananas and gingers. Those that are important within horticulture include orchids, cannas, fritillaries, daffodils, lilies, irises and hyacinths. The Monocotyledon Border runs west from the Mansion along the outside of the southern boundary of the walled gardens.

Things to look out for

The border exhibits monocots according to their geographical origin. In the Northern Hemisphere section, visitors will see plants such as the bluish-purple flowered Iris bullayana from central China and Tibet, and ginger-lilies. Specimens of the latter include Hedychium coccineum ‘Tara’, which was brought back from Nepal by Tony Schilling, and named Tara after his daughter. The Southern Hemisphere section contains plants such as the red-hot poker, Kniphofia caulescens, which has fat spikes of coral-red to pale-yellow flowers and originates in South Africa and Lesotho. The border is at its most colourful during the summer months.