Naked mole rats
1. Naked mole rats can live for over 20 years, an age unprecedented in small rodents.

2. Unlike European moles, naked mole rats dig with their teeth and not with their claws.

3. Unlike most other mammals, naked mole rats can't maintain steady body temperature - they are essentially cold-blooded.

4. While is it true that naked mole rats do not have any fur, they are not completely hairless as their nose is covered in thick sensory whiskers.

5. Naked mole rats feed primarily on very large edible roots which can weigh as much as a thousand times the body weight of a typical mole rat. They also eat their own faeces!

6. The eyes of a naked mole rat are virtually useless and so the sensory whiskers on the nose and tail help them navigate dark underground tunnels. 

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Abelia floribunda is just one of approximately 30 species of deciduous and evergreen shrubs native to East Asia and Mexico. Originally named and described by French botanist Joseph Decaisne (1807 – 1882), the discovery of Abelia floribunda for western science was first published in  'Flore des serres et des jardins de l'Europe'. While there is evidence to confirm that the introduction of Abelia floribunda to English gardens was in 1841, the first print of 'Flore des serres et des jardins de l'Europe' did not appear until 1845!

The genus name commemorates Dr Clarke-Abel, a British naturalist and surgeon for the celebrated Amherst mission to China in the early 19th century.

How to grow Abelia floribunda

Native to Mexico, Abelia floribunda is a tender, evergreen shrub (semi-evergreen where light frosts are experienced) which will require the protection of a sheltered south wall in even the mildest regions of Great Britain. Under favorable conditions you can expect it to reach a height and spread of between 2.5-4 metres. The glossy, mid green leaves are broadly ovate.

The blooms appear from July to October in dense, cerise clusters throughout the plant. Each flower is tubular in shape and approximately 5 cm long.

Abelia floribunda will perform best in a sunny position but will cope with semi-shade if need be. Provide a south facing position out of strong winds. It will be happy growing in most garden soils, however make sure that it is well-drained before planting. Avoid waterlogged soils.

Specimens that have outgrown their space or just need shaping can be trimmed back immediately after flowering. In all areas prone to frost, Abelia floribunda will require the protection of horticultural fleece in late autumn which can then be removed in late spring.


Abelia chinensis 
Abelia chinensis is believed to be the first species within the genus to be described. The genus name commemorates Dr Clarke-Abel, surgeon to the celebrated Amherst mission to China in 1816. Dr Clarke-Abel acquired seeds of the species, but lost them along with his other collections when the HMS Alceste was shipwrecked off the island of Lee-Chew (modern day Okinawa). Fortunately, he had given a plant to a friend, though it was another 26 years before the abelia was brought under cultivation and introduced to the British gardening public (1844). Luckily it is one of the most cold-resistant species within the genus

Abelia chinensis was named and described by the Scottish botanist Robert Brown (1773 – 1858), and published in 'Narrative of a Journey in the Interior of Chinathe' in 1818.

Commonly known as the Chinese abelia, it is commonly found across central and eastern China, Taiwan and Japan. It is a compact semi-evergreen to deciduous shrub (depending on how cold it gets), capable of a height and spread of between 1-1.5 metres. It has reddish stems and neat, oval, dark green leaves which turn reddish-brown before autumn. Clusters of slightly fragrant, white flowers with pink sepals which are freely produced from July to October.

When planting it will require a sheltered, south or east-facing aspect in full sun. It will be happy growing in most garden soils so long as they are moist, yet well drained.

Abelia chinensis received the Award of Merit(AM) from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1976.

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Abelia triflora
Native to east Asia and the north-western Himalayas, Abelia triflora is a large erect shrub with a graceful, ornamental habit. First described by botanists Robert Brown (1773–1858) and Nathaniel Wallich (1786–1854), it was introduced to western science in 1847.

Commonly known as the Indian abelia, it is a large deciduous shrub, which to some could even be considered as being a small, multi-stemmed tree. Under favourable conditions, it can grow to a respective height and spread of 3.5 m and 3 m. It has an upright, bushy habit, with dull-green, lanceolate leaves.

Abelia triflora will bloom in June, producing sweet-scented, white-tinged flowers in groups of three, and in large clusters. The flowers are hermaphrodite having both male and female organs.

In its native habitat, Abelia triflora is usually found growing amongst dry scrub and rocky slopes, and prefers calcareous (chalk or limestone) soils. Under garden conditions it will require light, sandy and medium loamy soils. It will not be suitable for acidic soils although it will tolerate neutral soils. As you would expect it is idea for alkaline soils and will also grow in very alkaline soils.

It will perform best in full sun but will tolerate semi-shade. It is hardy in (light woodland) or no shade. It has proven hardy in Great Britain.

Abelia triflora received the Award of Merit (AM) from the Royal Horticultural show in 1959.

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