Field of Science

Nifty plant of the week - October 3, 2008

Too much blogging about academic life and politics was getting me down. Plants are much more fun and interesting. So to improve my outlook the Phytophactor will introduce a new plant at least once a week.

Kalanchoe - (Stone crop family) "mother of thousands"

Some disagreement exists about the pronunciation and several opinions have been offered: kal-an-COH-ee, ka-LANK-oh, ka-LAN-coh, kal-an-COH-ee, kal-an-CHOH. I was taught the 4th one, but cannot say which is most correct.

The plant bears pairs of thick, fleshy leaves that have either a waxy or fuzzy covering of hairs. Both limit water loss and this genus is native to semi-arid regions of Africa. Ornamental species are widely grown, and their tolerance of dry conditions makes them good house plants.

Several species bear plantlets along the toothed margins of their leaves. Once the plantlets develop a couple of pairs of little leaves and some roots, they easily detach and quite readily begin independent growth.

Mature plants are soon surrounded by hundreds of clonal offspring giving rise to the common name "mother of thousands".

Although usually raised for the appearance of their leaves, many species have rather attractive 4-parted bell-like flowers with pink to red petals.


Larissa said...

mine kicked the bucket. I need a new one - not a flowering one though - one of the zig-zaggy ones instead!

The Phytophactor said...

Yes, but your croton is still in good shape because of the excellent baby sitting it has received.