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Origin and Habitat: Plectranthus socotranus is endemic to the island of Socotra (Yemen) off the Arabian Peninsula in the Indian Ocean.
Altitude range: 450–1100 metres above sea level.
Habitat and Ecology: Open rocky slopes and cliffs on the limestone plateaux in semi-deciduous woodland and grassy slopes at the foot of granite pinnacles. Common in several vegetation types and under no present or perceived threat.
- Plectranthus socotranus Radcl.-Sm.
ENGLISH: Mint of Socotra, Vick's Plant
Description: Plectranthus socotranus is a very small, compact succulent member of this genus in the mint family. It forms an upright subshrub to about 30(-60) cm tall with fleshy elliptic light green leaves. These are smooth, with a slight silvery cast on the upper surface, sculptured with raised veins decorating the convex lower surface. It is the only succulent-leaved labiate on Socotra. The leaves when crushed are strongly aromatic. The scent has been likened to a combination of camphor, eucalyptus and menthol and persists on one's fingers once touched. It produces nice blue-lilac flowers typical of these of Lamiaceae.
Derivation of specific name: The species epithet refers to its origins on the island of Socotra.
Stem: Densely branched, branchlets recurved with grey bark.
Leaves: Subsessile or shortly petiolate, ovate to elliptic, 12-25 mm long, 7-15 mm broad, fleshy, obtuse, cuneate or subcuneate, smooth, densely hairy, with a slight silvery cast on the upper surface, sculptured with raised veins decorating the convex lower surface. Margin slightly notched light brown which is enhanced with cool weather.
Inflorescences: Terminal, 2 cm long, tomentose, verticillastri up to 10-flowered; bracts rhomboid-elliptic, 2 mm long, hairy.
Flowers: 8 mm long, pedicellate, the pedicels 3 mm long. l Calyx 5-lobed, sub-equal, densely tomentose. Corolla irregularly 5-lomed, larger lobe glabrous, other lobes pubescent, tube narrow (7 mm long, 1 mm wide), blue-lilac. Stamens 3 mm long; Anthers 0.5 mm wide. Style 1 cm long.
Seeds: Ovoid, viscid, c. 0.75 mm long.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Sir William Jackson Hooker “Icones Plantarum; Or, Figures,: With Brief Descriptive Characters and Remarks, of New Or Rare Plants, Selected from the Author's Herbarium”, Volume 37 Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green & Longman, 1959
2) San Marcos Growers “Plectranthus socotranus - Mint of Socotra” <http://www.smgrowers.com/products/plants/plantdisplay.asp?plant_id=3828>. Web. 06 December 2015
3) Miller, A. 2004. Plectranthus socotranus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2004: e.T44970A10968820. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2004.RLTS.T44970A10968820.en. Downloaded on 09 December 2015.
4) ISI 2002-37. “Plectranthus socotranus A. R. Smith” <http://www.huntington.org/BotanicalDiv/ISI/ISI2002/2002-37.html> Downloaded on 09 December 2015.
5) plants for life: Plectranthus socotranus <http://tulear.blogspot.it/2008/08/plectranthus-socotranus.html> Downloaded on 09 December 2015.
Cultivation and Propagation: Plectranthus socotranus has a handsome mound of light green leaves and is covered with small spikes of mid-blue flowers by early autumn. It grows easily in a well-drained, semi-shaded position. Plants typically grow as dense, low-growing shrubs with short, erect branches, if exposed to full sun. The stems tend to become more sprawling and lanky in the shade. It is frost tender and grows well in sub-tropical and tropical locations, but will do well in cooler climates if grown in a pot and brought indoors, or moved to a warm sheltered position in winter. It needs little attention - and is quite hardy in a cool, well-lit conservatory or glasshouse, but grow well in a bright spot in the house too, need full sun to partial shade or high interior lighting with a well-drained soil mix.
Exposure: Full sun of light shade; this species thrives in dry, luminous locations. If it is getting too much sun, the leaves turn yellow, start curling and look unsightly. When grown under shady or partly shady conditions, it becomes scraggly and unattractive. It ideally should be grown in a semi-shaded as the leaves will remain a beautiful jade-green colour.
Waterings: The plants are regularly watered and allowed to dry before watering again, pay attention don't overwater as stems may rot at the soil line. Some suggest to water just enough to keep the leaves from shrivelling this keep the plants more compact and enhances the leaves scent. If too much water is used, the leaves will turn yellow and get mushy. During the winter months, keep them quite dry or only water enough to keep the leaves from shrivelling.
Fertilization: Fertilizer is applied only once during the growing season and it is diluted to half strength.
Hardiness: Avoid freezing temperatures. (USDA hardiness zones 10-11)
Maintenance: The plants can be pinched to keep compact.
Propagation. From soft-wood cuttings at any time during the growing season, cutting will grow within days. Rarely grown from seed because the plants seldom flower and set seed.
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