Monday, August 25, 2008

Plectranthus socotranus

The only member of Plectranthus that i knew until recently is P. amboinicus (Indian Mint, French Thyme, Soup Mint etc). This is a genus in which many species have aromatic or pungent leaves. P. socotranus is not an exception. It has very strong scented leaves and it smells like "Vicks". You don't have to bruise or crush the leaves to release the smell. A mere touch or brush against the roundish felted succulent leaves will release the scent. The scent smells like a mixture of camphor, eucalyptus and menthol and it will stay on your fingers.

The species epithlet suggests it comes from the island of Socotra off the Arabian Peninsular. The write-up from New or noteworthy species from Socotra and Abd al Kuri (Part of the Hooker's Icones Plantarum) recorded that it is found on the limestone plateau above 460m, being fairly abundant and in open patch amongst Croton thickets. Despite its hill habitat, it takes kindly to our warm lowland conditions and some exposure to tropical rain.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Kalanchoe somaliensis

There are many more species of kalanchoe that are more amendable or more correctly adaptable to continuously hot and humid tropical environment. K. somaliensis is one of them. Recent literature has placed it under one of the numerous synomyns of K. marmorata; in flower it may be a K. marmorata, so far it has not flowered. From the heat tolerance point of view, this is definitely not a typical K. marmorata. I had given at least 2 tries to K. marmorata from 2 different sources hoping to get a warm tolerant clone. They quickly succumbed to the weather and rightly so coming from 1200-1400 m montane zone of East Africa. K. somaliensis does have some semblance to K. marmorata; imagine the later without purple marbled markings and more pruinose. It probably comes from a warm area and dry habitat. The leaves develop even more intense white-blue pruinose under full sun as protection against sunburn. This clone comes to me from France.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Kalanchoe synsepala

This is one of the more unusual Kalanchoe being the only species that produces stolon like strawberry. It is widely distributed in central plateau of Madagascar. We do have a regular K. synsepala clone that has been grown here in Singapore for a long time. It is a vigorous plant but without the cool and change in the daylight hours of changing seasons, it does not flower. Interestingly, this particular clone from the lowlands of southern Madagascar is more amendable to hot tropical conditions and it rewards me with an inflorescence. The plant is redder and the leaf lamina is covered with fine felt whereas typical species has smooth leaf. I thought the flowers would have expired when i went away for 2 weeks, but it turned out to be very lasting.