Thursday, June 10, 2010

Plant profile: Cotyledon orbiculata var. oblongata

Latin name: Cotyledon orbiculata var. oblongata ("cot-eye-LEE-don or-BIC-you-lah-tah var. ob-long-AH-ta") “Flavida” ("FLAV-id-ah")
Common name: Finger Aloe
Originally from: South Africa
Blooms: Tall flower spikes hold nodding peach-colored bells.
Light: Sun or light shade
Water: Rain is plenty
Drainage: Well drained soil or just some rocks will do...
Height x width: 36" x 48"
USDA Zones:  9-10
Where to find in P. Garden: There are clumps all along the cactus wall.

This plant was originally found in the wild in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. E. van Jaarsveld describes it in the new "Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Crassulaceae" as Cotyledon orbiculata var. oblonga “Grey Sticks”. It may also be identical to Cotyledon “Mr. (or Mrs.) Butterfield”, which is described as a garden hybrid.

In South Africa, the disease caused by eating these plants, called cotyledonosis, has poisoned sheep and goats but rarely other animals. Ranchers in South Africa found that the meat of animals killed by cotyledonosis also remains toxic to humans and dogs who eat it.

I can’t remember where we got our specimens, or what they were described as when we got them, but they are doing fantastically well and flowering right now with those wacky, frilly, girly peach flowers on the elegant stalks.

They’re exceptionally tough, drought-tolerant plants that maintain a great form and look good all year round. Thumbs up from me!

UPDATE: Totally drought proof - 5 years of zero worries succulent gorgeousness so far. Thumbs up!

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