Monday, March 8, 2010

Plant profile: Echeveria "Blue Curls"

Is that a cabbage you spy at P. Garden? Nope – it’s a succulent. And what an amazing one! The colors glow in a rainbow of shades on every plant – it’s stunning, and one of my favorites.

Latin name: Echeveria ("ek-eh-VAIR-ee-ah")
Common name: Echeveria "Blue Curls"
Originally from: Mexico
Blooms: In summer, long stalks of red-pink flowers are produced.
Light: Likes part shade at P. Garden (the cactus wall is too hot for it)
Water: Rain is plenty.
Soil: Well drained
USDA zones: 9b-11
Where to find in P. Garden: In the middle front bed.

Atanasio Echeverría y Godoy was an eighteenth century Mexican botanical artist and naturalist. He accompanied Martin de Sessé y Lacasta (1751-1808) and Mariano Mociño Suárez de Figueroa (1763-1819) in their expedition through Mexico, with the goal of creating an inventory of the fauna and flora of the country.

Named for the Spanish botanist, Echeveria is a genus of rosette producing succulents that come in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes. A few have decorative markings on the leaves, which can be flat and heart shaped, sometimes with wavy edges or bumpy surfaces, or thick and ovoid with pointed tips. Some have smooth leaves and others are fuzzy. Many hybrids abound in cultivation and the one we’re showcasing today is called “Blue Curls” for obvious reasons!

Some sources list Harry Butterfield as the breeder of this beautiful plant but others attribute it to Frank Reinelt. Harry Butterfield, was a known hybridizer of Echeveria. An article in the CSSA Journal titled "Echeverias for the Fancier" was about a talk Butterfield gave to the California Cactus and Succulent Society on Nov. 8, 1953 where he reviewed the known species and hybrids of Echeveria (unfortunately without mentioning "Blue Curls"). Butterfield was also known to have created several named hybrids of Echeveria gibbiflora, which would be one of the presumed parents of "Blue Curls". Mr. Reinelt, who operated Vetterle and Reinelt Nursery in Capitola, California, was more famous for his primrose, begonia and delphiniums but also worked with succulent plants. This hybrid is noted as the sister seedling to another well known cultivar, "Blue Waves," which has less crinkly leaves.

UPDATE: someone stole our examples of this plant from the garden, but I still recommend it for a safer spot.

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