Saturday, August 23, 2008
What Is This Plant?
In a previous post I mentioned that I have a houseplant that is older than I am. It was given to my mother when she married in 1931. It is a sweet little plant in a very small pot. She once told me where she got it, and said that it was still in the same pot, and then she said, "Every now and then I put a little water on it." She had it in the East facing window above her kitchen sink. To make a long story short, many years later I brought it to live in the East facing window of my kitchen. It is still in the same little pot, and every now and then I put a little water on it.
We have never known what it is. It has always reminded me of Jack-Rocks, or you may call it Jacks, the pickup game that children play. Maybe someone reading this will recognize it. I have five photos of it; I will just show them all.
Maybe I should mention that it has teeny-tiny little hairs all over it. It is slightly fuzzy.
Addendum: August 25, 2008
Thank you to everyone who pitched in and helped with identifying this unusual plant. You set me on the right path to tracking its lineage. At first I started out by using elimination. Then I followed clues.
Some people suggested it might be pencil plant, Euphorbia tirucalli. I read awhile at some suggested web sites, and looked at photos. It does look very similar to pencil plant, but this plant does not have the burning, milky sap. (I am happy to
say.) So, I am ruling that one out.
Others seemed to think it is Hatiora salicornioides (Dancing Bones Cactus a.k.a. Drunkard's Dream, and Spice Cactus). I visited the referenced web sites, and read both of them. My plant is very similar to that, but not exactly. Most of the H. salicornioides plant is smooth, but mine is fuzzy, nor do the terminal ends look like those in the photos.
However, during my reading I noticed a reference to 'mistletoe cactus'. I dug deeper into that one.
In the genus Rhipsalis are over 60 South American species and varieties, plus synonyms.* (One of the synonyms is Hatiora salicornioides.) Their center of diversity is South America, primarily Brazil. But among the Rhipsalis, one species is considered a biogeographical mystery because it is scattered over several divergent areas of the world; that one is Rhipsalis baccifera, 'Mistletoe Cactus'.
I studied several photographs of varieties of Mistletoe Cactus and they looked like my plant, plus descriptions mentioned the soft white "hairs". Mine has never bloomed so I cannot identify it further. Based on its age, I am sure it is a species plant as opposed to a natural or cultivated variety.
In the wild they are epiphytic plants getting shade from the trees in which they grow, and frequent showers. They need more moisture and humidity than a cactus.
I think mine was getting too much sun in the S.E. window; mother's was more N.E., so I have moved it to a better location. And, it is probably very unhappy having been confined to that little pot all these years. For sentimental reasons I will leave it as is, but I may try taking a cutting and rooting it to be grown on in a larger pot.
I think cultural requirements are similar to that of the Christmas Cactus that I inherited from my paternal grandmother. But, that is another story.