February in the Conservatory

By Scott Preusser, Conservatory Horticulturist

Do the short, cold and leafless days of winter leave you longing for some flowers and green plant life? If so then come join us in the Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory!

The Boettcher Tropical Conservatory features 11,500 square feet of tropical and sub-tropical wonderland to warm the mind and body. A diverse collection of over 600 different plants from all over the world will make you forget you are in the middle of Denver in the middle of winter. Whether you prefer large, towering palms or tiny treasures, a stroll or sit in the conservatory will cure what ails you.

Here are a few of the lesser known curiosities found in the tropical collection:

  • Bixa orellana, Achiote, Lipstick Tree
    • Native to the tropical Americas this tree can reach up to 33’ in height
    • The common name comes from the red waxy seed coat that was first used by native South Americans to make red body paint. Today it is still used as a natural coloring for butter, cheese and lipstick
  • Tacca nivea, Bat Flower, Devil's Whisker Plant
    • A small, evergreen plant that grows on the forest floor of Malaysia
    • Features amazing flowers resembling the appearance of a Bat that you simply must see for yourself in late spring-early summer
  • Ravenala madagascariensis, Traveler’s Palm, Traveler’s Tree
    • The large, paddle-shaped leaves can reach 35‘ in height and form a distinctive fan shape that tends to point East and West (but not always)
    • While the common name would suggest this plant is a palm, it is actually more closely related to bananas
    • People travelling in the tropics have been known to poke a hole in this plant to get clean drinking water (please don’t try it on ours)

So the next time you find yourself looking for a way to brighten the teeth-chattering days of winter just remember there is a tropical oasis right here in the heart of Denver.