Let’s Hear it for Succulents!!

If there were no lilies in the world, succulents would rank first on my list of favorite plants: I love their different textures, unusual shapes, and chameleon-like reactions to heat, humidity and time of day. What’s pale green in the morning may look whitewashed at noon or red tinged by nightfall, like this Echeveria Elegans:

Echeveria Elegans

Echeveria Elegans at 730pm after a day of full sun.

There are over 150 recognized species of Echeveria, and though most exhibit standard mat-form rosettes (like Elegans,) others are strangely shaped like this one:

Echeveria glauca ssp. pumila f. cristata

Echeveria glauca ssp. pumila f. cristata

If the word ‘cristata” sounds familiar, you may be remembering my Mother’s Day Mutant 😉 with the cristate defect causing horizontal, wavy stem growth. Because the stem on the Echeveria above is flat yet undulating, the green, leafy, top-growth forms haphazard rows instead of neat rosettes.  But there’s another more interesting fact ➡ E glauca ssp. pumila preserves its cristate properties even when reproduced from small cuttings or single leaves!!!  If I hadn’t tried it myself, I mightn’t’ve believed it…look!

Echeveria glauca ssp. pumila f. cristata

Six months ago, a small, leafless section of the original plant broke off, so I unceremoniously popped it in the ground. At the time, I was doubtful such a tiny, unrooted piece would survive, and I definately had NO knowledge of cristate mutations!  Ahhh, live and learn (literally!) 🙂

I also recently (as in yesterday! :roll:) figured out why only one of my Opuntia species has been flowering:

Opuntia Humifusa, Eastern Prickly Pear

Opuntia Humifusa, Eastern Prickly Pear in bloom

Unlike the Eastern Prickly Pear, the other Opuntia variety in the Ranchero is spineless:

Spineless Opuntia (rear) Eastern Prickly Pear (foreground)

Spineless Opuntia (rear) Eastern Prickly Pear (foreground)

Apparently the lack of spines indicates the original Ranchero Opuntias are most likely hybridized specimens created for use as cattle feed. Although flowering isn’t impossible, it’s less likely because “forage” varieties are grown for their edible thalli (pads) which can be fed raw to livestock or cooked for human consumption. The botanist behind these genetics was Luther Burbank, and you can read more about his work here. 🙂

Until next time….

8 thoughts on “Let’s Hear it for Succulents!!

    • Hey!! so nice to see a comment from you, but not surprised you like succulents/cacti! I was smitten with them after buying my first one a zillion years ago when I set up my first apartment! Hope all is well at Arigna Garden!

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