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Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi Raym.-Hamet & H.Perrier 1915
pronounced: kal-un-KOH-ee fedz-CHENG-koh-eye
(Crassulaceae – the stonecrop family)
common name: Lavender Scallops
This perennial succulent, that originates in Madagascar, has wiry stems that branch to form a loose sprawling plant with blue-green, scallop-edged leaves. Its flowers are very similar to those of Mother of Millions, and, by the look of the plants growing rampant by the drive of a house in Barbarra Street, Picnic Bay, it has a similar capability of becoming an invasive weed. It propagates from seed, leaf cuttings and stem cuttings. Even a single leaf stuck into the soil or a potting medium will take root! It has already become naturalized in Southern Florida.
The development of the plant is erect. It tends to grow in both height and width, developing into a rounded shrub up to 1 m high. Unlike ‘normal’ plants, Lavender Scallops captures most of its carbon dioxide at night when the air is cooler and more humid, making it up to 10 times more water-efficient than major crops such as wheat. There is a project under way to use the latest next-generation DNA sequencing to analyze the plant’s genetic code and understand how these plants function at night. The project will generate a genome sequence database that will be used as an Internet resource for plant biologists throughout the world.
This research comes at a time when farmland across the world, that is normally used for growing food crops such as rice and wheat, is being taken over by bio-fuel crops used for ethanol production as a petrol substitute. Scientists hope that the novel genes found in Kalanchoe could provide a model of how bio-fuel plants could be grown on desert and semi-arid lands, rather than on fertile farmland needed for producing food.
Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi has upright flowering stems and decumbent, spreading stems that take root wherever they lie on the ground. The glabrous blue-green leaves are thick and fleshy. They are oblong, and 2.5–5 cm in length with 2–8 conspicuous teeth around the margins. The purplish or reddish brown flowers are campanulate, about 2 cm long, and hang in loose clusters from upright stems. The popular cultivar, ‘Variegata’, is bushier and more erect than the species, and has leaf margins that are creamy white and scalloped instead of toothed.
Photographs taken in Picnic Bay 2009, 2012
Page last updated 17th December 2016