Pretty in pink 2018

First, the recent cymbidium report. Last week’s new orchid blooms were these pretty pink ones:


I posted a photo of this plant last year, under the title “Pretty in pink”. But last year it had only a couple flower stems, while this year it has many; and last year it bloomed a full month later than this year.

At this point my plant report veers briefly into a weather report, after which I return to plants, in particular a remarkable succulent — sometimes called evil genius — that blooms at the beginning of a warm season, and is now flourishing in the Arizona Cactus Garden at Stanford.

Weather news. It had been on the whole a warmer winter than usual, with little rain. And then on January 28th, things got dramatically warmer and the rain stopped (with none on the horizon for at least 10 days from now). The weather has been ridiculously pleasant: highs in the upper 70s here this weekend, when about 60 is normal.

Plants are now coming into leaf or bloom a month or two earlier than usual. Like my cymbidiums. I begin to fear that the heat will rush them through to the end o their blooming time, which normally extends through May and sometimes even into early June.

Evil genius. Yesterday was clearly a good day to visit Stanford’s cactus garden, where lots of cacti and succulents were sporting fresh growth and flowers.

The plants are neither labeled nor listed in a catalog, so identification is a tricky task. Kim Darnell had a plant identification app on her phone, which gave us hints on some of the plants, in particular this one, which it gave the common nane evil genius:

(#2) Bryophyllum daigremontianum, with an umbrella-like terminal inflorescence … of small bell-shaped, grayish pink (or sometimes orange [or red]) flowers (Wikipedia link)

More from Wikipedia:

Bryophyllum daigremontianum, commonly called devil’s backbone, mother of thousands, alligator plant, or Mexican hat plant is a succulent plant native to Madagascar. Like other members of its genus Bryophyllum, it is able to propagate vegetatively from plantlets that develop on its phylloclade margins. All parts of the plant contain a very toxic steroid known as daigremontianin.

… Flowering is … not an annual event and occurs sporadically if at all on some shoots. Particularly in climates with distinct seasonal temperature differences, flowering is most frequently observed at the beginning of a warm season.

(#3) B. daigremontianum leaves with plantlets

(On the species name: daigremontianus, -a , -um alludes to Madame & Monsieur Daigremont, collectors of Crassulaceaea in the early 20th century.)

On the genus, from Wikipedia:

Bryophyllum (from the Greek βρῦον/βρύειν bryon/bryein = sprout, φύλλον phyllon = leaf) is a plant genus of the Crassulaceae family that has sometimes been included within the genus Kalanchoe. There are about forty species in the group, native originally of South Africa, Madagascar, and Asia. The group is notable for vegetatively growing small plantlets on the fringes of the leaves; these eventually drop off and root.

The plants are popular as house plants, but need to be kept away from other plants (because of their aggressive rooting tendencies), and from cats and babies (because of their toxicity). Evil genius, indeed.


3 Responses to “Pretty in pink 2018”

  1. Bob Richmond Says:

    I’m a great fan of Bryophyllum daigremontianum (a.k.a. Kalanchoe daigremontiana). I have three clones of it. ‘Stanley’ just bloomed – a more elongated inflorescence than that one. ‘Donna’ floods me with plantlets.

    As to toxicity – I’ve read that it contains cardiac glycosides (like digitalis, lily of the valley, red squill, and oleander) in dangerous quantities.

  2. Robert Coren Says:

    So would you say that Bryophyllum is an evil genus?

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: