Thursday, June 15, 2006

Canaote Botanic Garden Honored

Canaote Botanic Garden, situated outside Tinaco, Cojedes, is recognized by both academia and enthusiasts as one of the most important collections of fruit and palm trees in Venezuela. David Clulow the founder and curator began this work some eleven years ago when he arrived here from his native England. Many of the early plantings are now mature and the garden has a very mature ‘park like’ feel to it. All the major plantings have a label that gives scientific detail. Where the seed originated from. When it was planted. Both its Latin scientific and local name are shown. Initially he visited many areas of the world collecting seed which might be successful; in this xerophytic ( half year very dry and half year very wet) environment. But more importantly he established relationships with fellow botanists around the world and today those friendships are still providing seeds by cambolache or seed exchange that continually provide new experiments and new plants successful in Venezuela. This scientific work has already been of great benefit to the country. For example David was the first to obtain the very sweet ‘Red Lady’ variety of Le chosa from Thailand, and the Yard long’ beans which grow so well here are the result of David’s investigations. He has grown Galapnuts in Cojedes very successfully, an excellent and superior substitute for brazil nuts, and formally only grown in Papua New Guinea. This nut should be investigated as a protein high food source and a fruit for trade development. The yellow Pitaya cactus grows well in Cojedes but the red variety is unknown, that is until David introduced it. This is sweeter and with finer texture than the yellow variety. Currently the red fruit bring a very high price in the Miami markets and would be ideal for local planting and commercial development. Alongside this work, he has created a reference collection of palm trees. If you want to know if a palm will grow and succeed here then visit Canaote and see for yourself.
He joined the Palm Society some years ago and has been active on the council of the body, giving many papers relating to his studies. Last weekend whilst giving a paper to the Avepalmas group, he was honored, firstly by the Caracas Botanic Garden with a life long free pass, and then by the prestigious Palm Society of Venezuela, who awarded him the ‘Golden Palm Award’, a distinction only awarded very rarely, in recognition of his work for horticulture in Venezuela.

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