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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

'Mandela's Gold'

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Monday, December 9, 2013/Categories: Uncategorized, art and design

Nelson Mandela is remembered as a: human rights reformer, political leader, sports fan, and a patriarch. He has now passed away and his life is being honored by several US presidents, Pope Francis, and millions of ordinary people. However, long after the memorial celebrations are over, a beautiful flower will remain as another form of tribute.

Plant breeders are poorly known but they touch everything derived from plants: food, fibers, fuel, and beautiful horticultural creations like flowers. In Mr. Mandela's case, breeders began work 20 years ago to develop a cultivar of Strelitzia reginae (Bird of Paradise), a wild South African plant. Patiently working at the national botanical garden at Kirstenbosch their time consuming efforts of selecting and re-breeding individual plants finally created a golden yellow form of the flower, typically orange. It was named, 'Mandela's Gold' and is now propagated and available at nurseries, garden centers, and in plant catalogs.


Strelitzia reginae cv 'Mandela's Gold'  (credit: Kirstenbosch BG)

At the end of World War II, a French plant breeder working with colleagues in Italy, Germany, and the USA developed a flower that became known as the Peace Rose. By now, over one hundred million of the roses had been sold and planted worldwide in the name of peace. It remains one of the most popular roses produced by growers in California.

If Mandela's Gold does the same by reminding folks of of the unfinished work needed to provide human rights then Nelson Mandela's legacy will indeed be a long one.

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