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Kalanchoe luciae Raym.-Hamet 1908
pronounced: kal-un-KOH-ee LOO-see-eye
(Crassulaceae – the Stonecrop family)
common names: Flapjack, Paddle Plant
Kalanchoe is from the Chinese name for one of the species; luciae is named for Lucy Dufour, a 20th century acquaintance of the botanist Raymond Hamet, who described the species in 1908.
The plant, a native of South Africa, has a basal rosette of flat, round fleshy leaves that may remain uniformly green, but can turn red round the edges in cooler winter months if they have been given a substantial amount of light. In some case, the whole leaf will turn a vibrant red. The leaves layer one on top of the other, rather like a stack of pancakes. These leaves, that can grow up to about 15 cm long by 13 cm wide, are sometimes coated with a ‘bloom’ of fine whitish powder that helps to protect them from excessively bright conditions. The younger inner leaves are upright and more-or-less parallel to each other like stacked dinner plates, and the outer leaves angle outwards, often developing wavy edges.
Although it doesn’t often flower, it can produce a flower spike in late winter to early spring, but it is monocarpic, i.e., each plant produces only one flower in its lifetime, after which the plant dies. A single long stem arises, up to as much as 90 cm long, with flowers that are not strongly scented, and have an urceolate flower tube with pale yellow lanceolate corolla lobes. The plant produces numerous offsets during its life, so it is easy to maintain its presence in the garden.
The plant is often sold as Kalanchoe thyrsiflora, which is quite a similar plant, but its leaves don’t turn so bright a red, its flowers are a darker yellow, more tubular in shape, the lobes broadly obovate, and much more strongly scented. Both species like to live in soil that is light and well-drained, moist, but not saturated, and the top few centimetres of the soil should be allowed to dry out between waterings. A mature plant will grow up to about 60 cm tall (excluding the flower spike), with a spread of 90 cm or so..
These are often grown as indoor plants. If kept in low-light conditions, either indoors or in the garden, they will often become leggy and create quite grotesque shapes.
Photographs taken in Nelly Bay, 2016
Page last updated 18th December 2016