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Archive for the ‘Unusual Plants’ Category


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The bat may look like a cuddly fur ball to some, but its association with vampires and Transylvania freaks me out.

A couple of years ago however, I adopted a few. They were the flightless Tacca Chantrieri which is vegetative; definitely not the gothic mammal I have an aversion to.

However, all the Tacca Chantrieri seedlings, bar one, succumbed to root rot.

IMG_0122bThe lone survivor bore a flower, but that first bat was a miniature. The greenish-grey bloom was no bigger than my thumb nail but had the requisite trademark bat shape and whiskers.

I moved the Tacca from the confines of its pot into a trough. And, yeaaay! Subsequent flowers had longer whisker-like bracts and larger sootier ‘wings’.
IMG_0176sThese showy bracts overshadow the buds that hang in umbels from the centre. The buds bloom in turn and the reflexed petals of the small black flowers cup the reproductive organs.

20140405_143840sSo far, however, my Tacca Chantrieri has not produced any seed pods. I’ll try pollinating the flowers when they bloom next and see if I can get some seeds.

Do I really want more plants? Well, why not?

The Tacca Chantrieri may not win any prizes for being a conventional beauty, but this bat flower can hold its own with its unique and intriguing form.

 

Care and propagation:

Semi-shade to full sun; light, well-drained soil, water moderately. Propagate using seeds or rhizomes.

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ImageIt’s supposed to be an honour to have a plant named after you. But what if the plant was the Sansevieria; commonly known as Mother-in-law’s Tongue?

The poor lady couldn’t have been amused especially since the plant’s hard sheaths have sharp pointed ends.

We had a huge clump of Sansevieria Trifasciata which had to be removed when we shifted the driveway. No one shed a tear.

Then many years later, someone gave me the tough rod-like Sansevieria Cylindrical. I thought the rods looked lethal and that someone could end up being impaled, so these too were duly removed. Once again there were no regrets.

IMG_7346Then the office next door caught fire. The quality of the air was badly compromised and we were desperate for an air purifier. I googled for answers and discovered just how amazing the Sanseviera really was.

NASA, apparently, revealed that the Sansevieria has the ability to absorb 107 unknown air pollutants including carbon monoxide and nitrogen monoxide (source: http://1st-ecofriendlyplanet.com/12/sansevieria/). Now, that really grabbed my attention.

That day, the scorned became the savior.

 

Two big pots of Sansevieria Trifasciata were wheeled into the office in an attempt to rid the air of some toxins.

At home, I started collecting the Sansevieria in earnest.  The S. Trifasciata Hahnii, S. Futura Superba  and S. Golden Hahnii Bonsai came hot on the heels of the Sansevieria Trifasciata.

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Each were placed in small pots for easy handling.And so when the haze came and facemasks flew off the shelves and everyone clambered to buy air purifiers, I turned to my collection of Sansevierias.

My sister who was visiting thought the tray of assorted Sansevieria looked lovely.

Granted that the varieties we see now are more appealing in form and colour than what we had a few decades ago, who would have thought that could be said the Mother-in-law’s Tongue?

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Care and propagation: shade to full sun; garden soil; water moderately; propagate by division

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I scoured the rows of potted plants at the garden centre. Nothing new, I thought. The usual pentas, impatiens, dianthus, zinnias, petunias …

… and then I saw it. Something different; something new.

Its crimson red caught my eye first; crimson red ears, then its purplish black impish face. Tiny bats stared with their huge eyes.


Vampire bats! Seen at an angle, the bats seem to be zeroing in on their prey. My imagination ran wild.

I bought a pot. No. I’m not fond of its namesake, but this floral version is fascinating.

I love its two flamboyant red petals that resemble the ears. I know it’s also called Bunny Ears and Tiny Mice, but there’s just too much of the bat in it to be anything else for me.

Apparently Bat-face loves the heat, is drought tolerant and is a perennial. Music to my ears; I’m loving it more by the minute.

I cut some of the longer trailing stems to propagate and hope they’ll root easily. A few more pots of the same would be lovely. But I wouldn’t want these flowers to transform into the winged nocturnal mammals they resemble any time soon.

 

Care and propagation: partial shade to full sun; well drained soil, water moderately; propagate using seeds or cuttings.

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“A dancing plant?? Yeah, right …”

“It really dances! Google and see if you don’t believe me.”

So I did. And there it was; sufficient evidence on the net to silence this doubting Thomas.

But I had no idea where to get Desmodium Gyrans seeds – until a friend asked if I wanted any. Now’s my chance to see some action!

I planted all five seeds … three germinated but only one survived.

As soon as I thought it was big enough to respond, I clapped, whistled and sang. We even played some music. But not a single leaf budged! What could be wrong?

Once again, I googled.

Apparently, my technique was off; the leaves respond more readily to soft high pitched sounds.

So I tried using a higher pitch. This time the tiny leaves moved!

The movements were sporadic and jerky so I wonder if the plant was traumatized instead.

My own video wasn’t great so here’s one I found on YouTube : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVBTqh37TGM

Perhaps I should try some classical music on my own plant next.

I’m really enjoying the uniqueness of the Desmodium Gyrans. Its leaves are quite pretty and it’s certainty a conversation piece and a hit with the kids.

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Care and propagation : partial shade to full sun; garden soil; water moderately; propagate using seeds

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