Echeveria (the most attractive succulents)

imge of orange flowers

Echeveria sp. (Crassulaceae family)

Echeveria is a genus of succulent plants found in the Crassulaceae, or Jade plant family.  They’re native to the arid areas of Mexico and Central America.  This particular plant just started blooming, and you’ll find it in the succulent greenhouse on the north bench.

succulent plants blooming
A pot of Echeveria succulent plants


Colorful Lantana!

Lantana sp. is found in the Verbenaceae family.  The Tucker Greenhouse has two different varieties and both are currently in full bloom.  One is the south greenhouse and one is in the north greenhouse.  They both grow equally well with different light and temperature regimes.  I was sort of testing which they’d prefer.  Turns out, it doesn’t matter.  They are native to tropical America.  These inflorescences are quite colorful, and quite aromatic as well.

image of orange an pink flower

yellow flower




Bromeliad blooms

Tillandsia cyanea, commonly called ‘Pink Quill’ has just begun to bloom in the north greenhouse here.  It is found on the eastern most bench. This plant is an epiphytic, perennial Bromeliad, found in the Bromeliaceae family.  It is a native of the rain forests of Ecuador.  The species name ‘cyanea’ means ‘blue’ in Latin.  Look closely at these blooms,  for the pink parts are actually bracts, or colorful, leaf-like appendages for attracting pollinators, while the bluish, purple parts you see are the actual flowers.

pink flower

Tillandsia cyanea Bromeliaceae family

The bluish purple flowers smell slightly like bubblegum.

Blooms for today, malodorous & aromatic

It occurred to me, as I was walking through the greenhouses photographing plants in bloom, that the two I planned to highlight for today were stinky smelling and sweet smelling.  It’s wonderful to have such wide ranging flora in one small greenhouse complex.

Today’s malodorous, roadkill-like smelling succulent plant is called Caralluma greenbergiana, and it’s found in the Apocynaceae family.  It is located in the succulent greenhouse on the west bench.  Each flower on its inflorescence is half the size of a dime.

image of a star-shaped flower

Caralluma greenbergiana (Apocynaceae family)

Close-up of flower-it really stinks!

Close-up of flower-it really stinks!

The second flower for today, the sweet smelling, very aromatic one is called Hedychium flavescens or commonly called Yellow Ginger.  It is found in the Zingiberaceae family, and it is a native of China. If you’d like to see it in bloom, you’ll find it in the tropical greenhouse.

image of a yellow flower

Yellow Ginger in full bloom. The scent of this flower is literally filling the tropical room-In a good way.


Living Stones in the Tucker Greenhouse

living stones

Lithops sp., commonly called Living Stones, are found in the Aizoaceae family.  These are succulent plants, native to South Africa.  They are called ‘mimicry plants’ because they look just like stones.  This helps protect them from predators.  These plants consist of two, opposite, succulent leaves fused together in the shape of an inverted cone.  There is a slit at the top of the plant that divides the two leaves.  The plant has no stem, only these two leaves and a taproot.  The leaves are thick and can store water in preparation for months without rain.  These plants remain small and close to the ground throughout their lives, in order to minimize the effects of the intense heat and sunlight in their natural environment. For more information, click on Lithops morphology

One very cool adaptation these plants have is their color.  They’re usually shades of tan, cream, or brown and have patterns, or dots on their leaves.  This helps them blend well into their rocky habitat.  Another cool adaptation is the fact that the tops of their leaves can be somewhat translucent.  This allows sunlight to enter into the interior part of the leaves.

“The translucent tops keep water in but allow light through, which bounces down toward the chloroplast-heavy tissue at the bottom of the cone.”-said Dr. Tim Holtsford upon seeing the Tucker Greenhouse’s newly acquired Lithops plants.  Please check out the new Lithops plants located in the succulent greenhouse.

image of a pot of succulent plants

Pot of Living Stones-Lithops sp.

Image of a Living stone plant

An individual Living Stone plant

image of a living stone plant

An individual Living Stone plant with newly emerging leaves.


A flower with a face

Tinantia anomala, commonly called False Dayflower, or Widow’s Tears, is found in the Commelinaceae family.  It is native to central Texas and northern Mexico.  This plant was collected by a former graduate student in the Pires lab, Kate Hertweck.  Kate said “It’s so called ‘anomala’ because it is so weird taxonomically.”  The genus name comes from Francois Tinant, a forester from Luxembourg.  This plant can be found on the central bench in the succulent greenhouse.  Look closely at its flowers.  You’ll see a total of six stamens, three are upright, and look like two eyes and a nose.  They are covered with yellow and purple trichomes (hairs), and three are curved downward.  A thin style curves downward with the three stamens as well.  The leaves on this plant are commonly called ‘cordate’ (heart-shaped), and ‘clasping’ (wholly or partly surrounding the stem).  The color of the flower is sky blue.  It is simply beautiful.

image of a blue flower

Tinantia anomala Commelinaceae family

Species names are usually very descriptive

A plant’s genus name is usually a noun, and the species name is most often an adjective.  This Aloe longistyla flower has a long style (part of the female portion of the flower).

Beautiful orange stamens (male) surround the long style (female0 parts of this Aloe longistyla flower

Beautiful orange stamens (male) surround the long style (female) of this Aloe longistyla flower.

This plant is found in the Xanthorrhoeaceae family and it’s located in the succulent greenhouse on the west bench.

The photo below is the actual Aloe longistyla plant.

Image of Aloe plant


Another ‘Pachycaul’ in bloom

Pachycauls are plants with thick, somewhat woody stems that can store water.  They often grow in very arid regions.  The word pachycaul comes from the Greek pachy, which means thick or stout, and from the Latin, caulis which means stem.  Another name for these kinds of plants is ‘caudiciform’.

Pachypodium saundersii, commonly known as the Kudu Lily, is found in the Apocynaceae family.  It is a succulent plant, native to South Africa, and more specifically in the Lebombo mountains of South Africa.  This plant is covered with sharp thorns, rarely needs water (I water our specimen once a month), ad has very beautiful, pinkish, white flowers.  If you’d like to see this plant in bloom, look for it in the succulent greenhouse on the west bench.

Image of thorny plant

Pachypodium saundersii found in the Apocynaceae family

Side view of Pachypodium flower

Side view of Pachypodium flower