Tag Archives: Euphorbia

The misunderstood Poinsettia

It’s been AGES since I last posted!  Sorry about that, loyal followers.   Life has been busy and I have added some new hobbies, which have diverted my attention and time away from the blog.  Now, let’s talk about poinsettias!

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I’m not entirely sure why I typed that title for the post.  Now that I have, I have a lot to discuss.  My inspiration for the post was when I visited the good old Myriad Botanic Gardens in Oklahoma City a couple of weeks ago.  To be honest, I have been a little disheartened with the direction of the gardens since the garden ownership changed a few years ago.  There is a lot more marketing (good) but a lot of it seems to have nothing to do with plants (sad).

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Anyway, that being said, when we were at the gardens a couple of weeks ago they had the whole placed decked out for the holidays and the conservatory was lit up with Christmas lights.  (All normal lighting was turned off, so you couldn’t really see the plants.)  In the lobby area they had tons of Poinsettias.  At first I walked by them, not realizing there was something special about this temporary splash of holiday color.  There were SIGNS by each of these plants.  (I can’t tell you how many times I have been in botanic gardens and seen a plant or tree that I didn’t know and I couldn’t find a label for it anywhere.)  The signs caught my attention and then I noticed these Poinsettias were not all the same.  And I don’t mean they were just different colors.  There were striking differences.

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I was really delighted to see that the Myriad had gone out of their way to track down some named varieties that were different from the norm. They were only lacking a bit more signage to call people’s attention to the understated exhibit. It could be pretty educational, describing what a cultivar is, how they are selected and bred, and how the horticulture industry works. It’s all in my head.

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Now back to my title, I think the Poinsettia is misunderstood. First, the Poinsettia is Euphorbia pulcherrima, belonging to the huge Eurphorbia genus, which mostly consists of succulent plants that the average person would call “cacti.” You wouldn’t know it with a quick look at the Poinsettia, but it’s true. Now maybe the Poinsettia is saying “Hey, that’s just my crazy family.  I’m nothing like those spiky beasts.”  But they are closely related. Second, those colorful “flowers” that everyone loves at Christmas time… well, they’re not really flowers. Those are colored leaves, called bracts. The flowers are the small yellow bits in the middle.  Third, they just don’t look like that in the wild.  The compact potted plants sold all over the place between Thanksgiving and Christmas have been grafted and bred for those traits.  The natural species is much more lanky and with less prominent colorful bracts.  Fourth, the rumors of their toxicity are hyperbolic.  Most people will have little to no reaction from the sap.  Others could have some skin irritation.  If you were to each a leaf,  you might puke.  You would have to eat a lot of Poinsettias to have anything close to a fatal dose.

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Finally, I will leave you with some photos of a favorite relative of mine.  It is the Jamaican Poinsettia Tree (Euphorbia punicea). There is a large specimen at the Myriad Botanic Gardens and I have also seen this tree growing outdoors at a botanic garden in Florida.

Euphorbia punicea (Jamaican Poinsettia tree)
Euphorbia punicea (Jamaican Poinsettia tree) at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens, Miami, Florida.
Jamaican Poinsettia Tree
Jamaican Poinsettia Tree – macro view of flower. Myriad Botanic Gardens, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

 

2013 OKC Cacti and Succulent Show

Christie, Myla and I attended the Central Oklahoma Cacti and Succulent show and sale in Oklahoma City a couple of weeks ago.  This is a really good annual show with tons of plants for sale and a small show area for nice specimens.  Even though I am not mired in the cacti/succulent hobby, there are plenty of plants that are tempting and others that are neat to just view from outside looking in.

Checking out a neat Euphorbia
My pretty girls with a blooming Adenium

It was also a lot of fun to surround the little one with plants again.  She is going to be quite used to spending time in gardens and plant shows.

A neat Euphorbia
Another neat Euphorbia

As always, there were hundreds of different Euphorbia.  I was tempted to buy a couple, but I restrained myself.  In the end, I only bought a single plant, Stapelia flavopurpurea, which fit my qualifications of being a good value, already rooted (I’m not good at rooting cacti/succulents from cuttings), and already fits in one of my collection niches.  The plant has a couple of small buds, so I hope to share some bloom pictures in the next month.

Tray of starter plants.

There were many trays of very reasonably priced starter plants. You could start a collection on a limited budget and get a nice variety of plants.

Adenia spinosa
Haworthia truncata
Haworthia truncata flowers

Sometimes it is confusing to me why certain plants are included in the cacti/succulent hobby.  For instance, how does the beautiful prize-winning Operculicarya (below) qualify as a cacti or succulent?  I think this hobby grouping is loosely defined, unlike many other plant societies (Orchids, Begonias, Aroids, for instance), which are specific taxonomic families.

Operculicarya decaryi
Trichocereus bridgesii monstrose

In the assorted monsters category I found the Trichocereus (above), reminiscent of the graboids from Tremors or the asteroid worm creature (exogorth) that tries to eat the Millennium Falcon. Also there was the strange show plant, the hybrid Euphorbia GH211 (below), which could have been in any number of Sci-Fi movies.  Just imagine a crowd of screaming people running away as it trudges down the street, maybe devouring a dog that couldn’t get away fast enough.  Yes, it has definitely been in a movie or two.

Euphorbia GH211 hybrid

It seems this annual show is going to be a fixture for me.  I was told that next year’s show is going to be even bigger and held at a larger venue.  My name is on the mailing list, so I should be notified as it approaches.  I look forward to it!

OKC Cactus and Succulent show

Before diving in, I must confess that cacti and succulents are not my passion. There are a couple of groups that interest me, like Stapelia and related genera. I decided to stop by the show and sale of the Central Oklahoma Cactus and Succulent Society last weekend because I figured it would be interesting to see, take photos and learn more about these plants.

Rhytidocaulon macrolobum
Rhytidocaulon macrolobum

I was surprised to see more plants of interest to me than I had expected. The “show” plants were neat, but primarily plants that I enjoy looking at and that I don’t have a great desire to grow myself. However, I found many plants on the vendor tables that were of interest to me. The first being the plant pictured above and below. Maybe you think it’s ugly, but look at those awesome black flowers!

Rhytidocaulon macrolobum
Rhytidocaulon macrolobum

There were quite a few Pachypodium on display and for sale (sorry, no pictures). I had just been giving a tour at the Myriad Gardens on Saturday afternoon, where the Pachypodium are 10 feet tall!

Euphorbia knuthii
Euphorbia knuthii

There were so many Euphorbia I couldn’t count them. As I was telling my tour group, Euphorbia has to be the most diverse genus I know. If you read my old post on Euphorbia you would have seen everything from the Poinsettia to the dangerously spiny plants, like the one I purchased this weekend.

Euphorbia cylindrifolia
Euphorbia cylindrifolia

The Euphorbia pictured below has a growth habit more like Mamillaria (those spherical cacti with spines all over them).

Euphorbia valida
Euphorbia valida
Dyckia marneir-lapostellei
Dyckia marneir-lapostellei

Check out the ghostly colors of the Dyckia and Crassula.

Crassula deceptor
Crassula deceptor

The little Avonia was quite adorable. It looks like a miniature and really doesn’t look real.

Avonia quinaria v. alstonii
Avonia quinaria v. alstonii

You have probably already seen my cucumber orchid. Now I see there is a cucumber succulent!

Senecio pendula
Senecio pendula

Sansevieria has quite a dedicated following. This show had two plants, one being the famous Sansevieria masoniana, with big floppy leaves. The other was more to my liking, Sansevieria scabrifolia.

Sansevieria masoniana 'Mason's Congo' and Sansevieria scabrifolia
Sansevieria masoniana 'Mason's Congo' and Sansevieria scabrifolia

Most of the plants I am showing won an award, but the cactus below won “Best Cactus.” Check out that long fur hanging off of the pads.

Opuntia tequiliana
Opuntia tequiliana - Look at that fur!

The only Stapelia-like plant in the show was this Huernia. It was a really big plant that is supposedly just 3 years old. It must be a vigorous grower.

Huernia thuratii
Huernia thuratii

I ended up purchasing 4 plants, 1 of which was an orchid. I had been told by some friends that Eulophia petersii is easier to find at succulent shows than at orchid shows, since it likes to grow so dry. I was talking with a vendor at this show and he was telling me about how he once heard someone describing this plant as having “orchid-like flowers”…

Huernia hystrix
Huernia hystrix

Two of the plants that I purchased are from my Stapeliae: Huernia hystrix and Stapelia hirsuta. The S. hirsuta is the one that gets really hairy flowers. It is also probably the species that is most similar to my Stapelia gigantea, which grows really well for me. So I feel confident I can get it to bloom eventually.

Stapelia hirsuta
Stapelia hirsuta

The last plant I purchased is the Euphorbia, which I mentioned earlier in this post. Dangerously spiney!

Euphorbia aeruginosa
Euphorbia aeruginosa

I don’t plan to become a cacti and succulent addict, but I would like to go to this show again in the future. There were definitely some neat plants.