|My new purchase|
Although not rare, 'Cleopatra' is a novelty amongst cannas, as its a periclinal chimera, meaning that it has mixed tissues. Quite simply the plant has the ability to produce green or deep bronze leaves and yellow or red flowers all from the same plant. Usually the yellow flowers are linked with shoots that have green leaves and red flowers with bronze leaves. The shoots and flowers are however not distinct in their colourings and striped or two toned leaves often occur, as do flowers with two-toned petals. It is a plant that is curious rather than beautiful, although it can be quite handsome. Being quite unstable, means that it frequently mutates and deteriorates, so some commercial stocks are poor, showing few of the interesting leaf markings. My purchase was quite striking with lots of striped leaves and big bands of shiny bronze.
|Cleopatra flowers from a plant in the past|
'Cleopatra' is widely grown worldwide and may occur as 'Yellow Humbert', 'Spanish Emblem', or 'Queen of Italy'. It is said to have arisen as a sport from 'King Humbert' as long ago as 1895. When I used to grow cannas, I sometimes isolated pure bronze shoots, which grew on well on their own and I sold it as 'Red Cleopatra'. The modern cultivar sold as 'Tropicanna Black' would appear to be exactly this. It's a good plant but no more unique than any of the so-called 'Tropicanna' range.