My sticks on fire (Euphorbia tirucalli) is blooming! The flowers are so wee, I almost missed them. They’re not much to write home about (or on a website for that matter), but it was such a monumental occasion, I felt it warranted pulling out the camera and posting about it anyway.
I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but my interest in oddities from the Euphorbiaceae family seems to be growing. To be fair, it is an attractive family of plants with incredible diversity. Euphorbias can be succulents, trees, bushes, or herbaceous plants. From your seasonal poinsettias to colourful and spiny crown of thorns, and a few thousand utterly wacked out, alien-like plants in between, it’s a family that constantly takes me by surprise.
I bought this Euphorbia a few months ago at the local Cactus and Succulent Society show and sale. It’s called a Medusa Head (Euphorbia flanaganii). I knew I had to have one when I saw my friend Barry’s potted up in an old clay mortar (he drilled a hole in the bottom for drainage).
It’s the sort of plant you can only picture as a houseplant. It seems too weird to come from nature, and yet it does… Somewhere in South Africa these are growing wild.
I would love to see that landscape. Wouldn’t you?
Yesterday afternoon I was invited into the apartment of a fellow Parkdale resident to check out her collection of fascinating and unusual plants. The visit brought the plant junky in me out in full force. I went home conspiring to get my hands on a few of those amazing plants myself and then spent the remainder of the afternoon rearranging and caring for the gazillions of houseplants I do have. Visits to other peoples’ gardens never fail to motivate me to do better by my own plants.
Mesembs in the front window.
Erika collects alpines, Mesembs (conophytum & lithops aka living stones are examples), Gesneriads (not African violets), orchids, and euphorbias. Looking back on our conversation, I’m not completely certain that she is exclusive to those plant families. Most of her collection just seems to fall within those categories. When I asked her what inspired her collection, she replied that she has always loved diminutive plants. The perfect-sized plants for an apartment dweller.
Conophytums are a South African plant that consist of two fused leaves. That’s pretty much it. They’re some of the most simplified and reduced plants I have ever seen.
They kind of look like doughy buns. Or really cute anatomical models of the cervix. Apologies for putting that image into your head, but frankly, that’s what I see when I look at one.
Conophytum bergerii (red) and Conophytum ratum (green).
Say what? These freakish things remind me of jelly candies or those stinky jelly air fresheners everyone had in their bathrooms in the late 70s. When I was a kid, I could never help opening up the plastic cover and poking them. I REALLY wanted to poke these too but that would have been very rude. The flower (yes they do flower) comes up between the two “leaves.” I can barely distinguish where that is on the red one.
Crown of thorns (Euphorbia milii) is a tough-as-nails, mean SOB of a succulent from Madagascar that is commonly grown as a houseplant here in North America. Those thorns will get you and make you curse like a sailor.
I love it!
I spotted this one in Barbados growing along the front fence in front of a small home. The plant was the size of a small bush and bursting with tiny bright red blooms. Oh to have a crown of thorns flanking my front garden. That should keep the Friday night bar hoppers looking for an outdoor urinal out of the garden.
I’ve come to associate the plant with the Arcade Fire song, Crown of Love.
“In my heart, there’s flowers growing.”
And inversely, these are the flowers I always imagine growing in the singer’s heart.