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Accepted Scientific Name: Kalanchoe tetraphylla H.Perrier
Bull. Mus. Natl. Hist. Nat. 29: 452-453 452 1923.
Origin and Habitat: South Africa (Cape Province, Transvaal, Natal), Lesotho and Swaziland.
Habitat: Grows in open bushveld on hill ridges usually associated with rock outcrops where the drainage is excellent. The flowers have a penetrating, sweet scent. This and the deep yellow corolla lobes clearly distinguish Kalanchoe thyrsiflora from Kalanchoe luciae in the field.
- Kalanchoe thyrsiflora Harv.
Kalanchoe tetraphylla H.Perrier
Bull. Mus. Natl. Hist. Nat. 29: 452-453 452 1923.
ENGLISH: Flapjacks, Northern White Lady, Paddle Plant, Paddle Kalanchoe, Red Pancakes, Desert Cabbage
Description: Kalanchoe thyrsiflora (often mistaken with Kalanchoe luciae) is a succulent plant that forms a basal rosette of large, rounded, fleshy stalkless leaves, which are grayish-green with red margins, covered with a white powdery bloom. It produces a flowering stalk about 1 m tall, and die back after flowering.
Habit: It is a completely glabrous biennal or perennial succulent shrub with rosettes usually developing only one erect, robust, densely leafy, flowering stem which is often slightly ridged and up to 1,5 m high. This large plant dies after flowering but rest assured that there will be plenty of young plants branching out from the base. The whole plant is more or less pulverulent with white, sticky powder.
Rootstock; Slightly swollen.
Stem: Flowering stem erect, single, arising from the rosette of leaves of the previous year 70-120(-150) cm high, stout, terete, smooth, up to 2.5 cm in diameter at the base and about 1.25 cm. in diameter below the inflorescence, leafy throughout, the upper leaves equalling or exceeding the internodes, leafless below at flowering time and marked there with the very close scars of fallen leaves.
Leaves: Sessile, very large, decussate, denser towards the base of the stem, round, obovate, oblong-spathulate to oblanceolate-oblong (6-)8-12(-14) cm long, (2.5-)3-7(-9) cm wide, the median and the upper ones successively smaller, flat, concave on the upper face, somewhat convex on the under one, thick and with tips rounded and blunt, tapering and connate at base, the cuneate base half-amplexicaul. They are, flat or almost so, glabrous, white-pruinose, and often with margins very entire, more or less tinged red in full sun. Don't touch this white bloom, as it protect the plant.
Inflorescence: The inflorescence is a slender, cylindrical, elongate panicle or thyrsus 20-30 cm long and about 8 cm in diameter with many short-stalked dichasia (cymes) ending in monochasia, often taller than a person. Bracts minute.
Flowers: Gold yellow with a sweet perfume. Pedicels equalling or exceeding the corolla. Calyx with ovate or ovato-lanceolate lobes 2.5-4 mm long. Corolla tube more or less quadrangular-cylindrical, 12-16(-20) mm long, grey-green and covered with a thick bloom; lobes ovate, obtuse to almost square, 2-3 mm long, rounded, deep yellow or orange. Anthers 1,5-2 mm long. Squamae broadly oblong, 2-3 mm long, truncate, usually emarginate. Styles 1.5-5.5 mm long, partially exserted.
Blooming time: The Kalanchoes are short day plants, they only bloom when they have less than 12 hours of light per day.
Fruits (follicles): 12-15 mm long, oblong-lanceolate;
Seeds: 1-1,3 mm long.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Kalanchoe tetraphylla group
Notes: Kalanchoe luciae has commonly been misidentified as Kalachoe thrysiflora which it resembles.
In March-April 2001 issue of the Cactus and Succulent Journal this confusion of names is discussed in an article by John Trager with a picture of the true Kalanchoe thyrsiflora. The article notes that:
"The plant commonly distributed under this name [Kalanchoe thyrsiflora], sometimes with the whimsical common name - coined by one enterprising nurseryman - of "flipping flapjacks" is in fact the related Kalanchoe luciae (ssp. luciae). Both species bear the fleshy, paddle-like, obovate leaves to which the common name refers. Those of K. luciae blush deep red, especially with cool winter temperatures. Those of K. thyrsiflora are more uniform chalky green or white, covered with a thick flour-like coating of wax. The flowers of the two species also differ. Those of K. luciae are not strongly scented and have an urnceolate flower tube with pale-yellow lanceolate corolla lobes. Those of K. thyrsiflora are heavily sweet scented with a cylindric flower tube and brilliant yellow broadly obovate lobes."
Bibliography: Major referencens and further lectures
1) Urs Eggli: “Sukkulenten-Lexikon.” Crassulaceae. Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart 2003
2) Sajeva & Costanzo “Succulents” The Illustrated Dictionary, 1994
3) James Cullen, Sabina G. Knees, H. Suzanne Cubey “The European Garden Flora Flowering Plants:A Manual for the Identification of Plants Cultivated in Europe, Both Out-of-Doors and Under Glass” Cambridge University Press, 11/ago/2011
4) Werner Rauh “The Wonderful World of Succulents: Cultivation and Description of Selected Succulent Plants Other Than Cacti” Smithsonian Institution Press, 1984
5) Hermann Jacobsen “A handbook of succulent plants: descriptions, synonyms, and cultural details for succulents other than Cactaceae, Volume 1” Blandford Press, 1960
6) Vera Higgins “Succulent Plants Illustrated” Blandford Press, 1949
7) Forest & Kim Starr “Kalanchoe thyrsiflora (Flap jack, dog tongue plant)”. Plants of Hawaii. <http://www.starrenvironmental.com>. Web. 27 Sep. 2014.
8) Wikipedia contributors. “Kalanchoe thyrsiflora” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 5 Jun. 2014. Web. 20 Oct. 2014.
9) Bernard Descoings:“Kalanchoe thyrsiflora” In: Eggli: Illustrated handbook of succulent plants. Crassulaceae: 2003
10) Dr J.P. Roux "Flora of South Africa" 2003
11) W. H. HARVEY "Flora Capensis", Vol 2, page 327 1894
12) R. Fernandes "Flora Zambesiaca" FZ, Vol 7 Part 1, page 3 1983
Cultivation and Propagation: Kalanchoe thyrsiflora is a very healthy plant, easy to culture and makes an interesting plant in any collection. It need a, keep it were is bright, sunny, warm and airy. The leaves become completely red with the cool nights of the winter, but will need protection from the cold during hard freezes.
Potting mix: They thrive in fast draining mix nutrient poor soils consisting of equal parts of loam and sand, with pumice or lava grit added to ensure good drainage.
Exposure: Mature plants do best in full sun to partial shade.
Watering: It needs moderate watering in autumn and spring while in summer it should be watered thoroughly and allowed to dry before watering again. During winter keep them rather dry, not completely (water only when the plant starts shrivelling), but it will generally grow even in winter if given water. These plants will survive on neglect. Over-watering is the most common cause of plant failure.
Frost resistance: prefers intermediate to warm temperatures but it is hardy to -2 ° C for short periods.
Pest and diseases: Whilst generally disease free it can be damaged by pest insects such as aphids, mealybugs and rarely scale. Protect from snails which permanently disfigure the leaves.
Propagation: It is propagated by removal of small offsets at the base of the main plant or by leaf cuttings in May or June, (when it is warm) . It grows easily roots at the end of a leaf which has fallen onto ground. New plants are ready within months.
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