Mother of Thousands

Kalanchoe daigremontiana, commonly called ‘Mother of Thousands’, is a succulent plant found in the Crassulaceae family.  This plant is native to the arid, mountainous regions of southwestern Madagascar.  This particular succulent plant has become a common house plant throughout the world simply because it’s so easy to propagate.  A word of caution though about bringing this plant into your home, it is toxic! The ‘Mother of Thousands’ plant contains a toxic cardiac glycoside called ‘Daigremonianin’, which can be fatal to cattle, pets, or small children if any part of the plant is ingested.

The ‘Mother of Thousands’ plant has lost the ability to produce viable seed, or sexually reproduce itself, so it has evoloved another method of replicating itself.  Its common name ‘Mother of Thousands’ refers to the fact that tiny plantlets, or replicates of the mother plant, are produced along the margins of each one of its leaves. “Many plants reproduce by throwing out long shoots or runners that can grow into new plants. But mother of thousands goes further: the plantlets are complete miniature plants that become disconnected from the mother plant’s circulatory system and drop off, allowing them to spread rapidly and effectively. The houseplant has lost the ability to make viable seeds and only reproduces through plantlets,” said Neelima Sinha, professor of plant biology at UC Davis.

If you’d like to see the numerous ‘Mother of Thousands’ plants at the Tucker Greenhouse, look for them in the Desert room, growing in clumps in a bed toward the west end.  Because of the ease with which this plant reproduces itself, it has become quite weedy in the greenhouses.

image of a succulent plant

Mother of Thousands plant with tiny plantlets on the leaf margins

image of a succulent plant

Another photo of tiny plantlets produced on the edges of the leaves of the mother plant

image of a succulent plant

This is a photo of the unopened flower buds of the Mother of Thousands plant. In the next few days and weeks, these plants will be in full bloom. Look for the salmon colored blooms when visiting the Desert room.