Aciphylla horrida (Lomondii)
Aciphylla is a most unusual genus of plants, native to New Zealand with one exception. It belongs in the Apiaceae and is thus related to carrot, parsley, dill, celery etc. In appearance however, Aciphylla has little in common with these vegetables but rather has thick, very hard, spiky foliage in rosettes much more reminiscent of certain Agave or Yucca. A. horrida forms a cluster about 1.5 m (5 ft.) in diameter. The pinnate leaves are about 80 cm long and usually have 2 pairs of leaflets that are relatively broad, lanceolate, curved and dark green with yellow margins. "Lomondii" is a large form with broader, more glaucous leaves. A. horrida is native to the South Island of New Zealand and found in mountain areas with high rainfall. In cultivation it will do best in cool or cold temperate, oceanic climates, where it requires a sunny or only lightly shaded spot. It does not like high summer temperatures and is a perfect replacement for Agave and Yucca in such climates. For best germination results, keep seeds after sowing at around 20ºC (68ºF) for two to four weeks, then expose to light frost for about a month, finally keep around 10ºC (50ºF) for germination. This process simulates winter and is required to break down germination inhibitors. Germination may occasionally still take months, sometimes over a year before sprouting.