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Origin and Habitat: Kalanchoe bracteata is found in South Eastern Madagascar approximately in the same portions of Madagascar as is Kalanchoe beharensis.
Habitat and ecology: Kalanchoe bracteata is rather common in xerophytic scrub on various soils and rocks. The species was first collected by Scott-Elliot on sand dunes in the Tolanaro area.
- Kalanchoe bracteata Scott-Elliot
Kalanchoe bracteata Scott-Elliot
J. Linn. Soc., Bot. 29: 15 1891.
- Kalanchoe bracteata Scott-Elliot
- Kalanchoe bracteata var. aurantiaca Rauh & Hebding
- Kalanchoe bracteata subs. glabra Rauh & Hebding
- Kalanchoe bracteata var. longisepala Boiteau ex L.Allorge
- Kalanchoe bracteata var. pubescens Rauh & Hebding
- Kalanchoe ebracteata Scott-Elliot ex H.Jacobsen
- Kalanchoe nadyae Raym.-Hamet
Description: Kalanchoe bracteata (Silver Teaspoons) is a small compact shrubby succulent that in nature attains a height of at least 1,5 metres, and perhaps more. It is one of the more attractive species of the genus that has velutinous, ovate leaves with a slight point at the tip and short petioles. Kalanchoe bracteata is a variable species and is represented in cultivation by smooth green to silvery-white-leaved forms. The silvery-white colour is due to a very characteristic pubescence of appressed short stellate hairs with 3 oblong-triangular acute branches, often very appressed and covered with a waxy substance that covers the leaves and the young 4 angled stems resulting in a glabrous appearance. The flowers on this plant are orange-red on branched terminal inflorescences. Kalanchoe bracteata forms plantlets on the flower stem. Recently, Rauh & Hebding (1997) described ssp. glabra with 3 varieties; in view of the apparently continuous variation encountered in nature, these taxa are of doubtful taxonomic value.
Derivation of specific name: The specific epithet "bracteata" is in reference to the conspicuous floral bracts of this species.
Stems: Moderately woody, terete, obscurely 4-angled, densely branched, covered with scale-like trichomes when young. Internodes short to fairly long if plants have grown rather rapidly.
Leaves: Ovate, ovate-orbicular or to lanceolate, 20-40(-70) mm long, 19-25(-40) mm wide, tip cuneate-acute to obtuse, base rounded or tapering abruptly into a narrow, fleshy, cylindrical, petiole about 5-15(-20) mm long, deeply canaliculate above. Apex shortly apiculate, margins entire. The leaves are greyish-silvery white to olive-green variable in appearance due to the presence or absence of a covering of closely appressed long triangular hairs (trichomes). Sometimes these hairs are dense enough to give the leaves a silvery-white appearance, but early in the life of the leaf, this covering is shed. The leaf then is rich dark green, glossy, and entirely glabrous. The leaves are less fleshy in appearance than those of most species, but they are still distinctly succulent.
Inflorescences (cymes): Terminal and lateral, densely branched dichasial thyrsi, scorpioid cymes at branch ends, 50-100 cm long.
Flowers: Erect, sometimes spreading. Pedicels 5- 10mm long, densely hairy. Calix tube very short to almost absent, sepals triangular, very acute, united at base, shortly tubular, 4-10 mm long, 2.5 mm wide, densely white hairy below. Corolla urceolate, very fleshy, tube strongly quadrangular, 8-10(-16) mm long, 6 mm wide, bright red, orange-red or yellow-orange, nearly glabrous. Corolla lobes recurved, rounded to triangular, 2-3 mm long, 1-2 mm wide. Stamens adnate to corolla base elongating above the middle of the corolla tube, included. Anthers ovate, 1.5-2 mm long. Nectar-glands rectangular, 1.5 mm wide. Style 2-2.5 mm long.
Similar species: K. bracteata is closely related to Kalanchoe orgyalis and sometimes mistaken for each others, both have the same growth habitat, the same inflorescence structure, and the same floral morphology, but K. bracteata has smaller leaves and red flowers, while K. orgyalis has lemon-yellow flowers. The pubescence of K. bracteata can be identified with its 3 angled, two lobed hairs. Kalanchoe hildebrandtii, is another close species that has the same overall appearance, the same ecological requirements, and sometimes occurs in mixed stands. K. hildebrandtii can be distinguished by stalkless leaves and small white flowers.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Urs Eggli “Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Crassulaceae” Springer Science & Business Media, 06 December 2012
2) Werner Rauh, Herman Schwartz “Succulent and xerophytic plants of Madagascar”, Volume 2 Strawberry Press, 1998
3) The American Horticultural Magazine, Volumes 18-19, page 4, 1939
4) San Marcos Growers "Kalanchoe bracteata - Silver Teaspoons " <http://www.smgrowers.com/products/plants/plantdisplay.asp?plant_id=3237>. Web. 06 December 2015
Cultivation and Propagation: Kalanchoe bracteata - Silver Teaspoons - is a popular plant among landscape designers because of attractive colours and texture of the plant. It is very easy to cultivate and makes an interesting plant in any collection and is rewarding. It is also easy to take care as indoor plant. Since it doesn't get very large it's an easy plant to move inside/outside.
Potting mix: They thrive in nutrient poor soils consisting of equal parts of loam and sand, with pumice or lava grit added to ensure good drainage.
Exposure: Plant in full sun along the coast to a light shade inland.
Watering: It needs moderate watering in autumn and spring while in summer it should be watered thoroughly and allowed to dry before watering again. In winter give only occasional watering (only when the plant starts shriveling), 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 warm temperatures, minimum winter temperature 5° C.
Uses: It makes a nice landscape plant in warmer climates because it does not require much maintenance. In colder climates, Kalanchoe bracteata can be grown as outdoor pot plant in summer and a nice indoor accent plant in winter.
Propagation: It is propagated by removal of small offsets at the base of the main plant or by leaf and stem cuttings. It grows easily roots at the end of a leaf stalk which has fallen onto ground. New plants are ready within months.
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