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Photos, musings, and flashes of brilliance from the staff at The Ruth Bancroft Garden

Crassula is a huge genus, with most of the species native to southern Africa. A lot of them are miniatures, but Crassula perfoliata var. falcata is in the big side, and robust forms can grow to be several feet tall. It is from South Africa, and was long known simply as Crassula falcata, but it is now considered a variety of the variable C. perfoliata. It differs from other forms in its sickle-shaped leaves (falcata means sickle-shaped), and it is sometimes called the Airplane Plant or the Propeller Plant because of this distinctive shape.

-Brian

Commelina is the type genus of the Commelinaceae, which includes such commonly-grown species as Tradescantia ‘Purple Heart’. This one is Commelina coelestis, from Central America and South America, and it is probably the bluest flower at the Ruth Bancroft Garden.
-Brian

Commelina is the type genus of the Commelinaceae, which includes such commonly-grown species as Tradescantia ‘Purple Heart’. This one is Commelina coelestis, from Central America and South America, and it is probably the bluest flower at the Ruth Bancroft Garden.

-Brian

Limonium, known as statice or sea lavender, is popular as a garden plant in California. The kinds usually grown, like L. perezii, are larger and have denser flower heads than the diminutive L. bellidifolium pictured here. It is native to the area around the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.
-Brian

Limonium, known as statice or sea lavender, is popular as a garden plant in California. The kinds usually grown, like L. perezii, are larger and have denser flower heads than the diminutive L. bellidifolium pictured here. It is native to the area around the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

-Brian

Northern Chile is home to many amazing species of cacti, from powdery-white Copiapoa species to dark-bodied little gems like Eriosyce napina, pictured here. It was formerly placed in the genus Neochilenia, and is often labeled as such in books and in nurseries, but Eriosyce is now considered to include all of the Neochilenia species. It is always a marvel to see a plant whose flower is bigger than all the rest of it!
-Brian

Northern Chile is home to many amazing species of cacti, from powdery-white Copiapoa species to dark-bodied little gems like Eriosyce napina, pictured here. It was formerly placed in the genus Neochilenia, and is often labeled as such in books and in nurseries, but Eriosyce is now considered to include all of the Neochilenia species. It is always a marvel to see a plant whose flower is bigger than all the rest of it!

-Brian

Aloe peckii is from northern Somalia, and it is related to A. somaliensis and A. hemmingii, which also have smooth glossy leaves with spots. Unlike these others, A. peckii has pale yellow flowers with distinct brown stripes, distinguishing it from all other species of Aloe. Its spots tend to become less distinct as it gets older.

-Brian

Gasteria armstrongii is like a cartoon of a plant, with its stubby and chubby little leaves stacked on top of each other. Sometimes the plants have white speckles, like the one pictured, but sometimes it has only little smooth bumps which are the same dark green as the rest of the leaf. The plant shown has a little cracking in the leaves on the left side, which is something this species is prone to. In its habitat in south-central South Africa, this plant grows flatter to the ground than it does in cultivation. The coral-colored flowers with their swollen bases are similar to those of other species of Gasteria. For a time, this plant was classified as a variety of G. nitida, so it is sometimes listed as G. nitida var. armstrongii, but it has now been elevated to the status of a full species.

-Brian

This plant is Dasylirion durangense, from northwestern Mexico. The name is often misspelled as “durangensis” or “duranguense”, and sometimes it is listed as a variety of D. wheeleri. In any case, this is a male plant, and the close-up shows the purple buds just beginning to open, revealing their white interior and yellow pollen. Bees love Dasylirion flowers, and come to visit from the moment the first flower opens.

-Brian

Cleistocactus is a South American genus, and most kinds have tubular flowers. This one, Cleistocactus winteri, has coral-colored flowers which open widely. It flowers repeatedly almost all year long. From Bolivia. It is also known as Hildewintera aureispina or Cleistocactus aureispinus.
-Brian

Cleistocactus is a South American genus, and most kinds have tubular flowers. This one, Cleistocactus winteri, has coral-colored flowers which open widely. It flowers repeatedly almost all year long. From Bolivia. It is also known as Hildewintera aureispina or Cleistocactus aureispinus.

-Brian

One of the great things about Astrophytum species is that they tend to have numerous bouts of flowering over the spring and summer months. This is our largest plant of A. ornatum, which is the tallest-growing species. The flowers are initially yellow, but get tinged with pink when they re-open on the second and third days. It comes from eastern Mexico.

Brian

There are many succulent species of Euphorbia from southern and eastern Africa, but some occur all the way up in Morocco as well. A nice example is this E. echinus, a clump-forming plant with red flowers (or cyathia, as the flowering structures of Euphorbia plants are called).
-Brian

There are many succulent species of Euphorbia from southern and eastern Africa, but some occur all the way up in Morocco as well. A nice example is this E. echinus, a clump-forming plant with red flowers (or cyathia, as the flowering structures of Euphorbia plants are called).

-Brian