Kalanchoe (Bryophyllum?) Pinnata

Kalanchoe pinnata is a succulent perennial that grows 4-6 feet tall on hollow stems. It has bright green leaves comprised of 3-5 leaflets with distinctively scalloped dark maroon margins.Bryophyllum pinnata, 12/2/13

The number of leaflets present varies from one (simple) near the base of the stem to two or more (compound) as the plant grows.

Bryophyllum pinnata compound leaflets, 11/05/13

When more than one leaflet is present, the one at the tip is significantly larger than the others, as seen in the next image:

Bryophyllum pinnata, 11/05/13

Although I’ve been calling this succulent a Kalanchoe,  Bryophyllum appears to be the current taxonomy based on several characteristics: (1) formation of plantlets in the leaf notches AFTER the leaf falls from the stem (2) the presence of pendulous flowers, (3) origins in Madagascar.

In contrast, species classified in the Kalanchoe group originate from a larger geographic range, have upright-facing flowers and produce plantlets along the margins of leaves still attached to the mother plant.  Of course all of this could change because numerous species don’t fit neatly in either category, and taxonomy has a way of updating with each new DNA analysis. 😮

But for now, let’s take a look at the traits that made K. pinnata the Bryophyllum she is today ➡ pendent flowers opening from short, lateral branches on tall, chandelier-like stalks.

Bryophyllum pinnata blooming, 12/02/13

The individual blooms are 1″ long and tubular shaped, emerging pinkish-green and deepening to red before drying on the stalk as a pale, papery brown. .

Bryophyllum pinnata flower, 12/02/13

When pinnata drops a leaflet, it goes into survival mode: bulbils (plantlets) begin growing along the leaf notches.

Bryophyllum pinnata leaf with bulbil, 12/02/13

As you might imagine, this form of propagation can be mighty invasive!  Good thing I like these burgeoning renamed kalanchoes! 🙂 I’m surrounded! 😉

Bryophyllum pinnata flower close up, 12/02/13

Until next time…….. 🙂 🙂 🙂