Saturday, May 23, 2009

Kalanchoe bracteata

Another interesting species of Kalanchoe from Madagascar yet again. This is a species that closely resembles K. orygalis. K. orygalis has leaves covered by a layer of deep bronze hair or scales whereas K. bracteata has silvery white hair or scales instead. This is typical K. bracteata and it also has a naked cousin totally emerald green with out hairs or scales. This species is very drought, heat resistant and easy to propagate from leaves. It is a beautiful succulent, and will need to be re-started leaves or re-planted from cuttings otherwise it grows leggy when the older leaves shred.  Another species that's very similar but more sparsely hairly is K. hildebrantii.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Stapelianthus keraudreniae

Another species of Stapelianthus from Betioky district in south western Madagascar. This species is different from other Stapelianthus due to the raise annulus resembling some species of Huernia like H. zebrina. Also, the annulus appears to be viscid or sticky in the absence of dew.  During watering, I took care to avoid wetting the flowers. However, it is only strong enough to trap dirt as i did not see any dead ants or other insect stuck on it.  The flowers of Stapelianthus are quite diverse, tubular in S. decaryii , raise annulus in S. keraudreniae, recurved in S. insignis and open standard in S. hardyi, S. madagascariensis etc; more so than other genera of Stapeliaceae (Huernia, Stapelia).  I hope to find others like S. calcarophilus, S. madagascarensis.  Being a sub-tropical stapeliad, it adapts well under tropical conditions.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Stapelianthus pilosus

This is an immediately distinctive plant amongst the stapeliads - stem densely covered with white hairs. For those more familiar with huernia, it is like Huernia pillansii with denser and softer hairs. Originated from Madagascar, it has been in cultivation for a fair period of time. But it is not as commonly available as other S. African huernias.  It requires more warmth and a bit higher humidity.  It has a creeping habit due to its long soft stems.  Also because of longer stems and less offsetting habit, it is harder to take cuttings for propagation. Hopefully, i can keep and propagate it well under tropical conditions.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Orthophytum gurkenii

Normally, i'm not a big fan of bromeliads with a soft spot for compact rosettes or silvery scales. Just not able to resist purchasing this plant for 23US$. I've been eyeing it for a while. The plant looked a bit tired then but recovered.  This species is native to Brazil from mesic habitat, so i'm giving it a bright corner and light watering. While it is not commonly offered here in the old world, it is not an uncommon houseplant offered in the states. The leaves are covered with a mosaic network of white trichomes.  Need to take extra care during handling to avoid touching the leaves and cause irrecoverable blemish.  And also  to keep a keen eye for scales or mealies!  

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Kalanchoe grandidieri

This is one of the arborescent kalanchoe from the scrub desert of south western Madagascar.  So far, it has been occasionally offered for sale by specialist C&S nurseries in Europe and US. It would quickly sold out and disappear from the catalogue the following year. I find this plant very slow growing and difficult to propagate. The leaf refuses to detached cleanly from the stem, even with great care. It is not easy to root the damage leaf.  These are i guess the reasons why it remains rare in cultivation.  With leaves up to 5" long, it resembles non-branching a scale-up version of the commonly sold jade plant Crassula ovata. It is amenable to tropical lowland climate and i had kept it for more than 5 years.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Plectranthus sp

Plectranthus is one genus that is not well presented in C&S collection. The best known species is P. ernestii a caudiciform from coast Natal province of South Africa. Other species in this genus can hardly be termed succulent in the classical sense, but many species are certainly well adapted to take xeric conditions. 

This species 10249 collected by Lavranos & Horwood from Galgallo, Somalia fits the bill of great adaptability between two extremes of dry and wet. My plant above is "tortured" by underwatering because i enjoy its soft and flaccid look.  A cutting given to a friend who has it grown under a sprinkler once a day becomes a monster overnight. It has outgrown its parental clone by 4 times in both width and height, carring its leaves erect and extended. In short, it has transformed into garden coleus!     

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Echidnopsis bihendulensis

This is a very robust and easy stapeliad for the equatorial conditions.  It does not melt with days with night temperatures above 30°C. Not surprising as it is from Somalia. Purchased it from Ernest Specks as ES14143 2 years back.  It is very free flowering, need little attention and propagates easily too.

Other than American invasion of Somalia, Somali pirates threatening shipping in Red Sea area and other bad press... Somalia is actually a place very rich and diverse in succulents and xeric vegetation.  Ecologically dry for eons, it is an isolated succulent desert sharing common flora with Northern Africa and Canary Islands and across to the Arabian Peninsular. Other well known stapeliads - Pseudolithos, Pseudopectinaria, Whitesloanea, Edithcolea also comes that area. 

Nowadays, i try as much as possible grow succulents from equatorial africa where few succulents are to be found and the lowlands of sub-tropical africa mainly Somalia, Madasgacar. Other parts of 'tropical' africa is not really true, because they are way up above sea level most of East Africa is highland and plains above 1000 m.