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[ Aloe (Aloe vryheidensis) | Posted on August 25, 2018 ]

Solitary aloe with striking yellow-orange flowers full of dark nectar. This species may be stemless or grow a stem to 6 feet. The leaves are grayish green but often turn brown, orange or red under drought conditions.

Named after Vryheid, a town in northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa whose name means "freedom" in Afrikaans. Found in mountainous areas of KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo Provinces. The dark, bitter nectar is rejected by sunbirds and honeybees but consumed by short-billed birds which are occasional nectarivores.

A close relative of Aloe spicata, tauri, castanea, and other plants with similar flowers (short, open, with copious nectar). This species can be resolved from spicata based on its shorter, less spreading leaves in a tighter rosette. It has absorbed the taller form previously known as A. dolomitica from the summit of the Wolkberg.

[ Aloe 'Cynthia Giddy' | Posted on August 16, 2018 ]

Attractive clumping spotted aloe hybrid which undergoes dramatic color changes in response to sun, drought or cold stress. In the shade this plant is green, and in the sun it's a dull reddish brown. Fresh cuttings turn reddish brown, then turn green again when they have rooted. Leaves have a few spots on top and lots of spots underneath.

This plant may flower at almost any time year round, often in the summer. So it is an excellent complement to the more common winter-flowering aloes in a succulent garden, if your goal is to attract hummingbirds year round. It stays low and clumps but not out of hand.

An excellent companion for a plant that the South African grower Cynthia Giddy hybridized: "Rooikappie", which shares a few things in common: it stays low, turns reddish brown colors in the sun, and may flower year round.

[ Tilt-Head Aloe (Aloe speciosa) | Posted on July 19, 2018 ]

Tree aloe from South Africa to 10-20 feet with outstanding bicolored flowers (red buds opening to greenish white blooms), to which the Latin name refers. The head usually points to the side (often north in habitat) rather than straight up like most tree aloes, thus the common name tilt-head aloe.

Leaves are long, thin, drooping, blue-green, and have fairly insubstantial reddish marginal teeth that are usually more like serrations. Inflorescences are relatively short, unbranched, and densely flowered, often appearing more than one at a time. Usually solitary in harsh habitats but capable of branching.

[ Cork Oak (Quercus suber) | Posted on July 19, 2018 ]

Mediterranean native tree whose bark is used to make corks for bottles, as well as for other uses like mats, etc. The bark is rough and fissured and very distinctive looking.

Cork is a renewable resource. The trees are not killed when the bark is harvested, and in fact just grow more. This is considered a soil forming species and it may provide an important ecological niche for animals across its range in southern Europe and northern Africa.

Half of the cork produced in the world comes from Portugal, where cutting down cork oaks is generally prohibited except for forest management.

[ Aeonium 'Zwartkin' | Posted on July 13, 2018 ]

Attractive Catlin hybrid of Aeonium "Zwartkop" and tabuliforme with reddish leaves and a low, clumping habit.

The name was misspelled "Zwartkind" in its 1987 release by the Huntington ISI as ISI 1731, then misspelled as "Zwartkint" subsequently. The correct name "Zwartkin" was meant by Catlin as a Portmanteau combining "Zwartkop" (the purple parent) and "kin". This is one of three clones Catlin grew out from the cross. One was green. Another was also reddish and subsequently named "Jack Catlin" in his honor, released posthumously as ISI 2009-10.

[ Euphorbia (Euphorbia poissonii) | Posted on July 10, 2018 ]

Shrubby West African succulent Euphorbia with fat white stems, deciduous green leaves, and small spines. One member of a group of similar plants, including E. unispina, darbandensis, sapinii, and venenifica, with a common shape and habit. These plants have an unusually toxic sap, which was used traditionally for poisoning animals. Avoid contact with the sap.

Requires strong light and excellent drainage. Does well in small containers, given occasional bumps up in size. Slow growing, with a marked seasonal pattern of new growth only in the summer and fall. Enjoys more regular water during active growth. May retain some of its leaves year round, or lose them all in winter. Tiny unisexual cyathia appear on the stems in winter and spring.

Grown from seed, which requires male and female plants to produce. Uncommon in cultivation. Branches regularly from the base and higher up. Quite striking in old age. Spineless forms have been bred.

[ Baseball Plant (Euphorbia obesa) | Posted on June 30, 2018 ]

Small greenish brown ball-like succulent from South Africa. The fattest Euphorbia, usually the shape of a rough ellipsoid. Like a baseball when young, then taller than wide in old age. Often decorated with interesting cross banding between the ribs, and regularly in bloom with small cyathia at the very top. Usually solitary. Offsetting forms are probably hybrids.

Plants are male or female, and one of each is required to produce seed. This species easily hybridizes with other Euphorbias (like polygona, among others) and the hybrids can be unusual and attractive intermediate forms.

Requires strong light for best form, and excellent drainage for a long life. A good choice for a small pot (5-6 inches maximum) in a warm, bright location. Susceptible to rot under dark, moist, or cold conditions.

More information here.
https://garden.org/thread/view...

[ Aloe (Aloe bussei) | Posted on June 26, 2018 ]

Clumping Tanzanian aloe with glossy green leaves that can turn reddish brown in full sun or in response to stress. Pink flowers, with greenish tips when they open. Plant in full sun for best color in mild climates. Uncommon in cultivation.

This species is very similar to the Tanzanian Aloe dorotheae, which is much more common in cultivation. Aloe bussei makes pink flowers (not red or yellow) and has generally unspotted leaves. The two species, which were described at the same time, are different in a few other key respects: the teeth on bussei are somewhat softer; the inflorescence is usually branched, not simple; the racemes are taller; the floral bracts and pedicels are longer.

[ Agave (Agave potatorum 'Kissho Kan') | Posted on June 7, 2018 ]

Attractive clumping variegated dwarf agave with many blue and white striped leaves in a tight rosette.

The non-variegated (all-blue) parent of this plant has gone by various names (also "Kissho Kan", "Kichiokan", "Kitsusyokan") based on the original kanji. The currently accepted "Kichijokan" was published in Starr's "Agaves" (2012). This name can be loosely translated to "Happy Crown" or "Lucky Crown" -- those have been used as common names in English speaking countries. It is from the potatorum/isthmensis group, though its precise species origin is not clear.

"Kissho Kan" is but the most common of several variegated forms of this all-blue parent. Its leaf margins are a pale creamy color.

Frost sensitive. Provide excellent drainage. A well behaved if somewhat prolific landscape plant, and an excellent, long-lived container plant as well. Most compact form in full sun. Easily propagated from offsets.

After some good rain when the plant is growing in full swing, the spines may be various colors. They emerge yellow and pass through orange and red to brown and eventually whitish grey in maturity. This plant is quite photogenic, especially at maturity and especially when in active growth.

[ Agave (Agave potatorum 'Kichijokan') | Posted on June 7, 2018 ]

Attractive clumping dwarf artichoke agave with many blue leaves in a tight rosette. This plant has gone by various names (also "Kissho Kan", "Kichiokan", "Kitsusyokan") based on the original kanji. The currently accepted "Kichijokan" was published in Starr's "Agaves" (2012). This name can be loosely translated to "Happy Crown" or "Lucky Crown" -- those have been used as common names in English speaking countries. It is from the potatorum/isthmensis group, though its precise species origin is not clear.

Frost sensitive. Provide excellent drainage. A well behaved if somewhat prolific landscape plant, and an excellent, long-lived container plant as well. Most compact form in full sun. Easily propagated from offsets.

After some good rain when the plant is growing in full swing, the spines may be various colors. They emerge yellow and pass through orange and red to brown and eventually whitish grey in maturity. This plant is quite photogenic, especially at maturity and especially when in active growth.

Not to be confused with a variegated version of this plant, "Kissho Kan", which has creamy margins and grows somewhat slower. The variegated "Kissho Kan" is probably more popular in cultivation but both are reasonably common plants. The other variegated forms of this plant are much less common in cultivation.

[ Pachypodium (Pachypodium mikea) | Posted on June 6, 2018 ]

Recently (2005) described succulent tree species which resembles Pachypodium geayi, growing relatively tall before it branches. The two species grow together in southwestern Madagascar. They can most easily be distinguished by the flower. White flowers. Broad, spreading fruit. Uncommon in cultivation.

[ Pachypodium (Pachypodium decaryi) | Posted on June 6, 2018 ]

Caudiciform succulent shrub from far northern Madagascar with a globose base and few branches, to 6 or more feet tall. The least spiny of the Pachypodiums. White flowers. Deciduous leaves. Narrow, horn-like fruit. May not grow the characteristic swollen base if started from a cutting.

[ Pachypodium (Pachypodium rutenbergianum) | Posted on June 5, 2018 ]

Large succulent tree, usually with a thick trunk and many branches. The largest and most widespread of the Madagascar Pachypodiums. Found mostly at low altitudes on the western side of the island. Uncommon in cultivation.

Narrow, deciduous leaves. White scented flowers. Long, narrow, horn-like fruit. This tree normally flowers and branches late, at perhaps 6 feet, though all sorts of variation in lower branching can occur.

Pachypodium sofiense was formerly a variety of rutenbergianum and is less common in nature and cultivation. It has a wider, pitted fruit and tends to make wider leaves.

[ Pachypodium (Pachypodium sofiense) | Posted on May 28, 2018 ]

Large, branching succulent tree with fragrant white flowers and wide, rounded, pitted fruit. Named after the Sofia River near the north of its range in the forests of northwestern Madagascar, where it is not common.

May be confused with P. lamerei, which is much more common in cultivation. P. sofiense can be distinguished by its broader leaves, scented flowers, and pitted fruit. It tends to branch earlier and more often, and it can reach a greater size.

This species was formerly considered a variety of P. rutenbergianum, a potentially more massive tree from Madagascar with narrower leaves and fruit. P. rutenbergianum var. perrieri was placed under P. sofiense when the species were separated.

[ Aloe (Aloe aculeata) | Posted on May 26, 2018 ]

Extra spiny stemless aloe with incurved leaves from southern Africa. The species name refers to the prominent spines on the leaf surfaces. Solitary and grown from seed. Inflorescences are usually branched on older plants and racemes are densely flowered. The flowers are yellow to orange, but orange to red in bud, thus often but not always bicolor. Flowers are ventricose (with a little belly) and have exserted stamens and style.

Drought tolerant. Leaves may turn orange, brown or red in full sun.

Featured on the back of the South African 10 cent coin from 1965 to 1989.

[ Bushman Candle (Monsonia crassicaulis) | Posted on May 5, 2018 ]

Spiny succulent shrub to about 12-18 inches from southern Africa with waxy stems (thus the common name) and beautifully delicate white or yellowish flowers, often in profusion. The most common member of an uncommon group in cultivation. From the geranium family. Often and formerly called Sarcocaulon crassicaule. Like the ocotillo, these plants make two types of leaves: one with a persistent petiole that hardens and becomes a spine, and one without a petiole that emerges from the axil.

May be seasonally deciduous, but usually quite leafy in mild climates with regular water. This plant comes from areas with low rainfall, and it is quite drought tolerant. It responds to rainfall by leafing out and flowering. It does very well in dry winter rainfall (Mediterranean) climates.

Provide strong light and excellent drainage in cultivation. This is a well behaved container plant which responds nicely to pruning, often by branching. It is suitable for bonsai or cultivation in relatively small pots. Fertilized flowers will develop a sort of horn that breaks open when released at the base to reveal long seeds with long fine, feathery hairs attached.

[ Echeveria (Echeveria agavoides) | Posted on April 21, 2018 ]

Common green Echeveria from central Mexico with red edges and tips in the sun. There are many versions of this plant (plus hybrids) in cultivation. A few barely blush at all. Several colorful cultivars have been named and they generally offset regularly but not prolifically. Longer-leafed forms also exist. The flowers are small and easy to miss, though plants often make multiple inflorescences.

Provide strong light and excellent drainage in cultivation. These are dry growing plants, well suited to container life. Best leaf color and form are seen in direct sun. In locations without extreme heat, the red-blushing forms are some of the best Echeverias for extreme exposure locations. Inflorescences in bud are prone to aphids. Longer-leafed forms are prone to mealy bugs. Offsets are easily rooted. May self-seed in cultivation.

[ Echeveria 'Mauna Loa' | Posted on April 20, 2018 ]

A colorful, solitary Dick Wright hybrid of E. gibbiflora "Carunculata" and other plants to about 12-18 inches wide with ruffled, carunculated leaves. Most dramatic color in full sun. Tones of red, blue, and purple are most pronounced. In protected locations, the color tends toward green with highlights. Not all plants are carunculated (the leaf surfaces of some plants have no warts). Provide excellent drainage in containers.

[ Echeveria (Echeveria affinis) | Posted on April 20, 2018 ]

Striking black Echeveria from northwestern Mexico (Durango and Sinaloa) with intense red flowers in late summer or fall. Less common in cultivation than its hybrid progeny "Black Prince" and "Black Knight", both quite similar in their overall appearance and flower color. Leaves may be greenish at the base in low light, or dark brown instead of black in the sun. Offsets sparingly. Long lived. Provide strong light (hours of daily sun) for best color and form. Provide excellent drainage. Susceptible to mealy bugs, which are easy to spot against the dark background.

[ Echeveria 'Black Prince' | Posted on April 20, 2018 ]

Striking black Echeveria hybrid by Frank Reinelt between E. affinis and E. shaviana (the former also a parent of "Black Knight", the latter also a parent of "Afterglow"). Looks nothing like shaviana. Offsets sparingly. Copious red flowers, often in late summer or fall. May be distinguished from affinis and "Black Knight" based on the shape of the leaves (thinner, more sharply tapering at the tip) and the posture (more spreading and less erect).

Like the other black Echeverias, its color will be darkest and most intense in very strong light (hours of direct sun) and tend toward a greener tone in protected locations. Also like them, it is susceptible to mealy bugs (which are easy to spot if you look for them against the dark background).

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