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Results tagged “crassulaceae”

Aug 22, 2014: Crassula ovata

Crassula ovata

Number five in the series on South African plants and biomes series from Taisha, who writes:

The informally-recognized thicket biome of South Africa is featured today with an accompanying photograph of Crassula ovata. This image is another shared via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool, and photographed by Sean Rangel@Flickr. Thanks for sharing, Sean!

The Albany thicket occurs along the Fish, Sundays, and Gamtoos river valleys in the eastern Cape, and moves west along the intermontane valleys of inland Fold Mountains and east into Maputaland-Pondoland Bushland and thicket. Annual temperatures range from 0°C to 40°C, with it being more extreme inland, and more moderate toward the coast. Annual rainfall is between 300-550mm per year, varying between inland and coastal areas, and valley mists are common on the coast. Soils are deep, lime-rich, sandy loams that are well drained and often have low moisture levels for extended periods of time.

The Albany thicket can be divided into three regions, each with unique vegetation patterns. The dry, inland areas of the Fish, Sundays, and Gamtoos Rivers are rather sparse, and have been classified as Valley Bushveld. This region contains both leaf and stem-succulent shrubs and a few characteristic woody species. Coastal area of these river valleys, known as Kaffarian succulent thicket, are extremely dense with ~90% canopy cover. These thickets are rich with species of spinescent shrubs, woody vines and succulents. Lastly, the intermontane valleys, know as Spekboomveld or Spekboom succulent thickets, are a dense shrubland dominated by Spekboom (Portulacaria afra) with other succulents, herbs, and grasses also occurring.

Crassula ovata is one of the most common crassulas occurring in South Africa. This well-branched succulent shrub occurs naturally on rocky hillsides from Willomore to East London, and north to Queenstown and KwaZulu-Natal. From a picture of the foliage, you may recognize that this as the commonly cultivated plant known as the jade plant or money tree. Many people grow these as container plants, both in and outdoors.

Like most Crassula species, Crassula ovata reduces water loss from its leaves by utilizing Crassulacean Acid Metabolism, or CAM. Part of the CAM biological process is that stomata are closed during the day to prevent water from evaporating, and instead opened at night to collect carbon dioxide (this is the reverse of how most plant species exchange gases, with stomata open during the day instead). The carbon dioxide is stored overnight in the form of crassulacean acids, which are then broken down during the day. This releases the CO2 for the photosynthesis process during the day. During extremely dry periods, Crassula species may undergo CAM-idling, where stomata are not opened during the day or night. Instead, the plants will recycle the CO2 within the cells. This leaves them unable to grow or develop new tissue, but the plants are able to survive the lack of water by losing very little of it during this time.

Mar 7, 2014: Crassula 'Morgan's Beauty'

Crassula 'Morgan's Beauty'

Taisha writes:

Today, we have an image of Crassula 'Morgan's Beauty', courtesy of Christopher Young (aka c.young@Flickr). Christopher shared this image via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool. Thanks Christopher!

Evidence points to Crassula 'Morgan's Beauty' being a primary hybrid, i.e., it is the first-generation offspring from the crossing of two different species. Hobbyist and expert grower, Dr. Meredith Morgan, bred this hybrid in the 1940s. There had been some longstanding confusion about its parentage. It was long speculated to be the result of first crossing Crassula falcata with Crassula ausiensis, followed by crossing those progeny with Crassula mesembryanthemopsis. However, there seems to be general agreement now that Crassula 'Morgan's Beauty' is actually the result of breeding Crassula falcata with Crassula mesembryanthemopsis. This hybrid is celebrated for having thick silvery leaves that crowd around fragrant and pink flowers in the spring.

According to the chapter on the Crassulaceae (Thiede & Eggli) in the book, The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants edited by Dr. K. Kubitzki, the Crassulaceae is a family of 34 genera and about 1410 species (similar numbers are suggested by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group. Crassulaceae has a very broad distribution, and is typically associated with arid or rocky habitats. Centres of diversity for the family are Mexico and South Africa. Generally, species grow as herbaceous perennials or shrubs. These almost always have succulent leaves or stems, and typically have hermaphroditic flowers and follicles for fruit. It is common for members of the Crassulaceae to photosynthesize nocturnally via Crassulacean acid metabolism, or the CAM pathway. The CAM pathway was first detected in the Crassulaceae, but many succulent (and a few non-succulent) taxa use this particular form of photosynthesis.

Nov 12, 2013: Orostachys sp.

Taisha wrote today's entry with the impression that the plants in the photographs were (maybe) Orostachys furusei, but after some investigation, I determined that one can only be accurate to Orostachys sp. (and, a bit more boldly, Orostachys sp. aff. boehmeri). Most resources either suggest Orostachys furusei is a synonym of Orostachys boehmeri (e.g., Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Crassulaceae) or, like The Plant List, note that the name is unresolved. However, I chose not to re-edit as if the plants were Orostachys boehmeri because: 1) the photographer's observations that these plants compared with others sold & grown as Orostachys boehmeri had different appearances and hardiness; and 2) this decade-old discussion on the Alpine Plants mailing list suggesting cultivated hybrids / selections sold regionally. With that cautionary note in mind, here is an edited version of what Taisha composed:

Today's photographs are of a taxon of Orostachys (image 1 | image 2), of which some are commonly known as dunce cap. They were uploaded to the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool, by Jacki Dougan aka jacki-dee@Flickr. Thanks for the images, Jacki!

Orostachys (e.g, Orostachys boehmeri) are members of the Crassulaceae or stonecrop family. The genus Orostachys consists of about 12 species. All are succulent, much like their relatives, the sedums and sempervivums. The genus name comes from the Greek oros, meaning "mountain", and stachys, meaning "spike", referring to both the mountain habitat where many species reside and the spike of flowers. When trying to research this taxon as Orostachys furusei, I found many additional names, including Orostachys boehmeri, Orostachys malacophylla var. boehmeri, Orostachys iwarenge var. boehmeri, Orostachys aggregata var. boehmeri, Sedum furusei, Sedum boehmeri, and Sedum iwarenge var. furusei. This makes it more difficult in my mind to find information, as it's scattered about listed under one name or another.

Some information that I did find is that dunce caps are native to eastern Asia. Plants of the species I've seen images of form a basal rosette of fleshy lavender-grey leaves with spreading stolons. After two or three years of growth, these monocarpic perennials will set a spike and flower. Once flowered, the rosette will die back, leaving offsets of the plant that haven't flowered for the next year. If a rosette doesn't bloom, it will wither in the fall and return in the spring. These attractive species are often used as groundcovers in gardens or planted among other low-growing succulents on green roofs. Generally, species of Orostachys are suitable to grow in containers, with full sun to partial shade. The soil should be allowed to dry between watering.

Aug 9, 2013: Sedum divergens

Sedum divergens

Pacific stonecrop or spreading stonecrop has a north to south distribution from Alaska to northern California. The only province or state it occurs in that doesn't border the Pacific Ocean is Alberta, where it is a rare plant only found in Jasper National Park (as of 1985, perhaps it has been found elsewhere in the province since). It is also a rare plant in California. I photographed it along the rocky bluffs off the Onward Point trail near Sandspit in Haida Gwaii, in the same locality as Dave Ingram's image on E-Flora BC: Sedum divergens.

In British Columbia, it is relatively widespread but most closely-associated with the Coast-Cascade Mountains. Habitat-wise, Sedum divergens is associated with rock: rock cliffs, rock ledges, talus slopes, and lava fields. Elevations range from sea-level (like today's photograph) to montane environments at 2300m or 7500 feet.

The succulent leaves of Sedum divergens continue to be used as an early springtime food by some of British Columbia's First Nations. Carla Burton's 2012 doctoral thesis: Wilaat Hooxhl Nisga'ahl [Galdoo'o] [Ýans]: Gik'uuhl-gi, Guuń-sa ganhl Angoogaḿ (Using Plants the Nisga'a Way: Past, Present and Future Use) (PDF, see page 96) details how members of the Nisga'a people use "t'ipyees" or lava berries.

Feb 28, 2012: Sedum moranii

Rogue River stonecrop is endemic to southwest Oregon, where it is found only along a less than 96km (60mi.) strip of the Rogue River and its tributaries. It is considered a Sensitive Species in Oregon and Critically Imperiled by the USDA. Threats to remaining plants listed by the USDA include: horticultural collecting for rock gardens, trail maintenance, recreational use of its habitat, and flooding. I've seen the result of horticultural overcollecting on other species (e.g., Cistanthe tweedyi), and I would say that there isn't much apparent evidence of plant-collecting at this site. In the instance of the Cistanthe, it was quite apparent that the density of individuals in a given area was higher (sometimes much) where plants were inaccessible. Here, for the few plants that I observed (one didn't have to go far), most were easily accessible both in terms of the distance from the vehicle and within 2.5m (8 ft.) up the face of the cliffs. A few plants even had potential for "drive-thru" photography--you could sit in your vehicle and photograph them out the side window.

Sedum moranii is named in honour of the now recently-deceased Dr. Reid Moran (scroll down linked page for short article), a US-born botanist (1916-2010). He was the Curator of Botany at the San Diego Natural History Museum from 1957 to 1982 and the author of the Flora of North America treatment for the Crassulaceae.

You can read the Flora of North America account for Sedum moranii for more or see additional images via Dr. Gerald Carr: Sedum moranii.

For local readers in the Vancouver, BC and Seattle, WA areas: in Vancouver, the Beaty Biodiversity Museum is hosting a photography exhibition called Interaction beginning March 6th, which will include sixteen photographs of mine. Read more on the Beaty's events page. For those of you in or around Seattle, the Miller Library is hosting a botanical art exhibit from March 2nd to March 29th in conjunction with the conference "Conserving Plant Biodiversity in a Changing World: A View from NW North America". I have two photographs in that exhibit, as well.

Jan 24, 2011: Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi

Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi

Another entry from Claire today. She writes:

This photograph of Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi was taken at the Rutgers Floriculture Greenhouse by Elena (mycologie@Flickr) and provided to us via the BPotD Flickr Pool. Much appreciated, Elena!

Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi belongs to a family of succulent herbaceous species and soft-stemmed shrubs, the Crassulaceae. Crassulaceae has about 34 genera and 1370 species spread over a wide range of the world (frequently in drier regions). This family is known for CAM photosynthesis, which they and many other groups of taxa utilize. CAM is an acronym for Crassulacean Acid Metabolism, an adaptive strategy to allow maximum water storage.

This beautiful species is a native of Madagascar, but is widely cultivated as an ornamental and houseplant. As it is a succulent, it requires little water and is very low maintenance. Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi easily establishes and can take root from even one leaf being transplanted (it has escaped cultivation and become invasive in some subtropical places).

The common name is lavender scallop, due to the slightly purplish/pinkish tinge of the leaves. Some pictures of the vegetative parts can be found on the University of Connecticut's Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Greenhouses site: Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi.


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