Giant Spaniard, Thomson's Spaniard
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. scott-thomsonii is the most impressive and largest species in the genus. The rigid, spiky, glaucous leaves can form a hemispherical cluster up to 2 m (7 ft.) tall, the inflorescence can reach nearly 4 m (13 ft.) tall. It is close to A. colensoi but much larger in all parts. It is native to the hills and mountains of the southeastern part of the South Island of New Zealand. 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.