Sunday, October 26, 2008

Glottiphyllum depressum

It is a surprise to me that this tongue-mesemb can grow and flower in Singapore. My first encounter was in a Taiwan nursery that had them grown in a flat in a gravelly mix. It was growing in full sun and also expose to monsoon rains. But apparently enjoying the conditions with numerous flowers. The second encounter was at Shanghai botanical gardens the following year.

G. depressum as species name suggests lies flat or prostate.   The soft heavy leaves can be easily damaged or bruised, making them unsightly. In term of size, this is a giant relative to lithops.  The leaves are about 3" long, flowers 1.2" across.  All parts are bigger, the seed pods and even the seeds are bigger.  I even managed to germinate few old seeds traps in a rotting seed capsule and nurse a seedling to about 2 cm with secondary leaves. 

Will probably try to test grow different species from genus here next year. There are afterall a few species stretching from Little Karoo east into the summer rainfall area of Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Aloe hemmingii

Well, i consider this one of the most beautiful Aloe.  It is a miniature, comfortably growing in a 3.5" pot. Like most good things in life, it is a relatively slow grower and does not give offsets or "pups" readily. This species is native to Somalia, around the hilly terrain around Hargeisa, at Horn of Africa. It closely resembles A. jucunda, a species that is more frequently offered probably because it grows faster and offsets easily.  Unlike A. jucunda which gets sunburn or melt down on exposure to strong direct sun, A. hemmingii looks best and bronzes ifself in full sun. 

Cultivation is relatively easy. Very well draining mix and general neglect!  

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Bergeranthus multiceps

Permanently warm temperatures above 25°C is almost certain death for keeping mesembs. Surprise, surprise, one compact mat forming mesemb, purchased from the famous Chatuchak Market in Bangkok, Thailand, just flowered for me. I've seen the bud for a couple of days and am ready to shoot under gentle morning light. But the flower remains close and a few petals extending out not unlike a clam that has trapped a few petals! When i returned from work one early evening around 5 pm the flower is opened. The timing is unusual as most mesemb open their flowers in the morning. There are numerous yellow flowering mesembs in a family with 135 genera and about 1900 species.. it would be impossible to land on a identification. 

Well, there are 2 important clues: 
(1) it must come from the lowlands, summer rainfall area; being successful here on the equator 
(2) flower opens in the evening

Refering to my handy copy of Mesembs of the World by Gideon Smith, Briza Publisher (1998).  Bergeranthus flowers only in late afternoon and close before midnight and is restricted exclusively to the eastern cape near the coast between Port Elizabeth in the west and up to East London and Queenstown. Doing some websearch, the leaf shape and plant habit best matches B. multiceps.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Testing out new Echeverias & allies

This is a tray of newly potted cuttings of Echeveria, Graptopetalum, Pachyphytum, Sedum, xCremnopetalum, xGraptoveria,, xSedeveria sp  I have always like rosetted species from the crassulaceae family.  Have been doing some research and compile a list of desirable low altitude species between subtropical belt ie. between the tropic of cancer and capricorn.  I come up with a list of mainly Mexican species which deserved to be tested here under tropical conditions.  I challenge a sharp-eye expert to spot 2 pots of non-crassulaceae!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hoya endauensis

Hoya species has been climbing about on my wall together with some of my native miniature orchids.  The leaves are small and long shoots or vines are also more contained. This clone has entirely smooth leaf margin versus wavy leaf margins in clones available in US and European collection.  It retains the same characteristics under different growers. The compactness and smallness is the main reason that i kept it. I have given cuttings to a couple of friends and also send long climbing shoots to the bin but it has never flowered over 3 or 4 years.  When it did 2 weeks ago, it lasted less than 2 days. The umbel naturally faces the ground.  I had to "right" it up to avoid using the bright sky as backdrop.  Each flower is just 8 mm across.. small.  

There is some debate as to it's origins; i recollected it was picked up on a fallen/rotting twig on a road up to a radio/tv broadcasting station between Kahang-Jemaluang road in Johor, Malaysia while my friend insisted it was picked up in the Panti area.  Well, it probably does not matter, the 2 localities are just 80 km or so apart in Johor State sharing a common lowland rainforest habitat.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Pyrrosia hastata

Am normally not into ferns. Perhaps being snobbish, they are like easy common houseplants that thrive under a regime of lavish watering.  Being a succulent enthusiast there are few places for moisture loving ferns. Actually there are many drought tolerant or xeric ferns.  Their survival strategy is different from succulents; succulent stores water while xeric ferns curls and dries up and resurrects when water is available. Nowadays, i've been slowly adding on xeric ferns to my xeric theme collection.

This fern was acquired recently during a trip to Japan.  My Japanese friend was keeping this fern in full sun on his rooftop.  Japanese summer can be terribly hot and humid. I was literally melting on his rooftop and thermometer registered 37°C. This fern Pyrrosia hastata was clearly adaptable, the leaves curled backwards exposing a beautiful rusty brown patch of spore bearing bodies (above photo, view of the underside). The potting media was almost bone dry. I thought it would make a good companion plant together with succulents.

This is a photograph of a well watered specimen from the top. 
This species come from Southern China and extend to Southern Korea and Japan. It grows on exposed rocky places. This explains its tolerance to both extreme summer and winter temperatures. Eastern Asia experienced wet summers and dry winters. And hence it is a summer grower.  So far, it has given me many new fronds. It has also went through a couple of missed watering as it was placed at less frequent corner.  These unintentional drought regime would have killed most ferns.