Mother of Thousands, or Plant of Thousands is becoming invasive!

The picture below is of a very young Kalenchoe daigremontiana plant.  This plant is found in the Crassulaceae family.  The same plant family Jade plants belong to.  Members of this succulent family prefer dry, arid conditions.  The Tucker greenhouse Mother of Thousands plants are living and spreading quite rapidly in the Desert room.

Mother of Thousands plant

Mother of Thousands plant-Kalenchoe diagremontiana.  Crassulaceae family

Why are these plants spreading so rapidly?  Because they vegetatively propagate themselves by making clones of themselves.  The picture below shows an older plant which is now producing tiny baby clones on the margins of its leaves.  If you look closely, you’ll even see the tiny roots that have formed.  These tiny clones simply fall off of the mother plant at some point, drop to the ground and take root where they land.

IMG_4262

I’m featuring this plant today because it is also in full bloom. The Mother of Thousands produces a branched inflorescence, complete with campanulate (bell-shaped) flowers of a beautiful pinkish-salmon color.

IMG_4279

I always want to explore the features of every flower I see, so of course, the last picture is one showing a dissected flower from the inflorescence.  The Crassulaceae or Stone Crop family typically has flowers with 4-5 petals, 4-5 sepals, 4-10 stamens, 4-5 distinct pistils. This family is largely comprised of herbs to shrubs which are largely succulent. Most genera in the family are native to Africa, Madagascar, and Asia.

IMG_4273

Welcome, Sand Lily or Winter Veltheimia

pink flower

Veltheimia capensis found in the Asparagaceae family, commonly known as the Sand Lily. Veltheimia is native to South Africa.  It typically blooms in January or February.

The photo above is of a racemose inflorescence (raceme), or a group of many flowers on one stalk which bloom from the bottom upward.  I plucked off one of these tiny, tubular flowers and dissected it, exposing the male and female parts of this flower. The photo below shows from left to right, an unopened flower, then a flower opened and dissected, exposing six epipetalous stamens (stamens attached to the petals), and one pistil on the right.  One of the green anthers fell off of the stamen in the middle of the flower.  The enlarged ovary at the base of the pistil is three-lobed.

pink flower

Veltheimia capensis is a bulbous perennial, with a rosette of leathery, strap-like leaves.  It is a very drought resistant plant used as a purgative by the native peoples of South Africa.

When seed capsules are more bizarre than the flowers that produced them.

The flower pictured below is growing and vining onto the large trees in the north room of the Tucker greenhouse.

pink flower

Aristolochia elegans, Calico flower or better known as Dutchman’s Pipe. This vining plant with its beautiful flower is found in the Aristolochiaceae family and is native to Brazil.

After the flower is pollinated by small flies attracted to its unpleasant odor, a seed capsule forms. The photo below is of a mature, dehiscent capsule.  As the seed capsule dries and matures, it slowly opens up to look a lot like a parachute, revealing lots of seeds shaped like tear drops.

seed capsule

Aristolochia elegans mature septicidal capsule  after dehiscence filled with seeds.