Kalanchoe daigremontiana X delagoensis
Synonyms: Bryophyllum daigremontiana x delagoensis, Kalanchoe x houghtonii, Bryophyllum x houghtonii
Common Name: devil’s backbone, alligator plant, mother of millions hybrid, mother of thousands hybrid, chandelier plant
Origin: Kalanchoe daigremontiana x delagoensis is a man-made hybrid created in the 1930’s by experimental crossings between Kalanchoe daigremontiana and Kalanchoe delagoensis (formerly known as Kalanchoe tubiflora) both of which are endemic to Madagascar (1,2,5,6,9). Arthur Duvernoix Houghton (1870-1939) was a medical doctor and botanist who created this plant in his greenhouses in San Fernando, California, through seed propagation (1,4,5). Seeds were propagated by using the pollen from Kalanchoe delagoensis to pollinate Kalanchoe daigremontiana (3,4). It eventually escaped cultivation and given its ability to proliferate by producing large quantities of plantlets at a time, it quickly naturalized in warm regions all over the globe (1,4). It is believed to be present on every continent except Antarctica, although its exact spread is unknown given the lack of literacy in identifying it (4,5). The challenges in identification are due to its stark resemblance to its parent plant, Kalanchoe daigremontiana, as well as confusing discrepancies in proper nomenclature, which have allowed the plant to evade detection (4,5). The plant is only declared as invasive in the United States and Australia, although its invasive status is much larger (4,6,8). It is often mislabeled, especially regarding the variegated form Kalanchoe ‘pink butterflies’ which is a hybrid of Kalanchoe daigremontiana x delagoensis, whose bulbils possess an attractive bright pink coloration due to their inability to produce chlorophyll, which is also desirable for inhibiting its spread (1).
Description: Kalanchoe daigremontiana x delagoensis is a perennial monocarpic succulent, with an erect unbranched stem (1,4,6,7,12). This plant has a shallow root system and can reach a height of 30 inches (1,2,6,10). The leaves are succulent, with a lanceolate almost boat-shaped lamina with a serrated leaf margin (1,4,5,6,7,8,11,12). The leaves are an emerald-green hue with mottled brown and purple patterning, and a deep purple coloration on its underside (1,5,6,8). The leaves are petiolate and are 3-6 inches long, and have opposite positioning (4,7,11). The flowers are pendulous and bell-shaped, forming on terminal corymbs often with over 100 flowers on a florescence (4,6,8,9,12). The flowers can range from orange, red, and pink, and are about 1.2 inches long (1,2,6,9,8,12). The flowers are tetramerous, with four greyish sepals partially fused, and 4 petals being fused up until the apex of its tubular corolla (4,12). The fruit is a dry-indehiscent follicle about a ½ inch long and is divided into 4 compartments containing copious amounts of tiny seeds (12). This plant produces large quantities of plantlets at the leaf margin, that readily shed and take root (1,5,6,7,11,12).
Cultivation and Care: