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Kalanchoe sect. Bryophyllum: Wikis


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The "Goethe Plant", Kalanchoe pinnata
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Saxifragales
Family: Crassulaceae
Genus: Kalanchoe
Section: Bryophyllum

Roughly two dozen, see text.

The Bryophyllums (from the Greek βρῦον/βρύειν bryon/bryein = sprout, φύλλον phyllon = leaf) are a section in the plant genus Kalanchoe of the Crassulaceae family. There are about twenty to thirty species in the group, native originally of South Africa, Madagascar, and Asia. The group is notable for vegetatively growing small plantlets on the fringes of the leaves; these eventually drop off and root. These plantlets arise from mitosis of meristematic-type tissue in notches in the leaves.

Nowadays, bryophyllums are naturalised in many parts of the tropics, either deliberately cultivated originally for their attractiveness and interesting reproduction. Some species are toxic, containing plant acids, bufadienolide alkaloids,[1] calcium oxalate etc, and have become noxious weeds in parts of the world. In the native range of some of these Kalanchoe species in the Karroo region of South Africa, they are abundant enough that they cause disease in livestock, known as krimpsiekte ("shrinking disease") or as cotyledonosis.[2]

There are many hybrids, e.g. Kalanchoe × crenatodaigremontiana (K. crenata × K. daigremontiana) or Houghton's Hybrid (B.daigremontianum × B.delagoensis).


Selected species

The three most commonly cultivated species are:

  • Kalanchoe daigremontiana (Syn. Bryophyllum daigremontianum): Devil's Backbone or mother-of-thousands. Native of Madagascar; introduced and naturalized in many parts of tropical and subtropical Africa, Asia (Indian Ocean islands), North America (Florida) and South Africa; cultivated in Pakistan.
  • Kalanchoe pinnata (Syn. Bryophyllum calycinum, Bryophyllum pinnatum): Air Plant. Native of Tropical Africa, cultivated or naturalized on many Pacific Islands (Tonga, Hawaii). It is also called the "Goethe Plant" since the famous writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe — who also was an amateur naturalist of some repute — was "passionately fond" of this plant and liked to give the baby plantlets as gifts to friends who visited his home. He also discussed his air plant at length in the essay that was titled Geschichte meiner botanischen Studien ("History of my botanical studies").
  • Kalanchoe delagoensis (Syn. Bryophyllum delagoense, Bryophyllum tubiflorum, Bryophyllum verticillatum)

Some other species in this section are:

  • Kalanchoe adelae (Syn. Bryophyllum adelae)
  • Kalanchoe beauverdii (Syn. Bryophyllum beauverdii, Bryophyllum costantinii, Bryophyllum juelii, Bryophyllum scandens)
  • Kalanchoe bouvetii (Syn. Bryophyllum bouvetii)
  • Kalanchoe campanulata
  • Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi
  • Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri (Syn. Bryophyllum gastonis-bonnieri)
  • Kalanchoe laxiflora (Syn. Bryophyllum crenatum)
  • Kalanchoe macrochlamys (Syn. Bryophyllum macrochlamys)
  • Kalanchoe manginii (Syn. Bryophyllum manginii)
  • Kalanchoe marnieriana (Syn. Bryophyllum marnierianum)
  • Kalanchoe miniata (Syn. Bryophyllum miniatum)
  • Kalanchoe prolifera (Syn. Bryophyllum proliferum)
  • Kalanchoe pubescens (Syn. Bryophyllum aliciae, Bryophyllum pubescens)
  • Kalanchoe rolandi-bonapartei (Syn. Bryophyllum rolandi-bonapartei, Bryophyllum tsaratananense)
  • Kalanchoe rosei (Syn. Bryophyllum rosei)
  • Kalanchoe schizophylla (Syn. Bryophyllum schizophyllum )
  • Kalanchoe serrata (Syn. Bryophyllum lauzac-marchaliae)
  • Kalanchoe streptantha (Syn. Bryophyllum streptanthum)
  • Kalanchoe suarezensis (Syn. Bryophyllum suarezense)
  • Kalanchoe uniflora

Vernacular names

Many names: Mother of Thousands; Mother of Millions; Devil's Backbone; Pregnant Plant, Mexican Hat Plant; Flopper; Sotre-Sotry; Air Plant; Miracle Leaf; Sprouting Leaf; Sprout Leaf Plant; Leaf of Life; Resurrection Plant; Canterbury Bells; Cathedral Bells; Mexican Love Plant; Life Plant; Floppers; Good Luck Leaf; Lifeplant; Mexican Love Plant; Mother in Law; Tree Of Life; Hawaiian Air Leaf; Monkey Ears; Monkeys Ear...

  • German: Brutblatt, Goethe-BlattWurzelblatt, Keimblatt, Knotenblatt, Moosblatt, Lebenszweig
  • Hawaiian: ‘oliwa kū kahakai ("beach olive")
  • Spanish: (Yerba de) Bruja; Prodigiosa; Flor de aire; Siempre Viva; Hoja Del Aire.
  • Quichua: Chiriyuyu, Chiriyugu
  • Hindi: Pathar Chat ("it licks away the stone") OR Patthar Tod ("It breaks the stone") The plant is popular in India for its use in folk medicine. Purportedly, use of the plant dissolves and prevents kidney stones. Practice is to cleanse the leaves and eat them early morning for 20 days to dissolve existing stones, and regular ingestion to prevent future ones.
  • Bengali: Pathar Kuchi ("It breaks stones").



External links



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