Saturday, May 11, 2013

Toothy grins

I love watching plants go through the build-up to flowering. Some send up stalks plump with promising fat buds that advertise their coming delights to patrolling bees and other insects. Others are much more modest about their sex life, just popping out without fanfare, 'doing it' briefly, then resuming operations as if they're glad that awkward business is over for another year.

However, in the case of the star turn in our garden this afternoon, the little succulent Faucaria, it has being "going to" flower for a few weeks now, and today it's saying to every bee in the backyard "look at me, look at me". I can understand its desperation to be loved, too. It does have a rather unfortunate smile, a 'toothy' grin of multiple fangs that makes it look like it's a relative of carnivorous plants such as the Venus fly trap. It does look alarming. In fact it's nothing of the sort. It's just another weirdo in a succulent universe full of weirdos, and our weirdo is in love with life, trying to make babies once again.

And so here it is in flower, yellow daisies basking in the sunshine.

Two weeks ago, see what I mean about its little image problem?
Those things looking like lurid tongues protruding between its teeth
are the flower buds. Slowly but surely the faucaria developed a
whole ullulation of flower bud tongues, ready to burst into full
noise when the moment came.

Each flower is filled with pollen, ready for the bees to visit.
The botanical name of 'faucaria', rather unsurprisingly, means 'animal mouth'. This is a native of Cape Province and the Karoo Desert in South Africa (hi you guys!). I don't know the species name of mine, it doesn't quite match the photos I have checked out online. Maybe it's some subspecies of Faucaria felina, that's my best guess.

As for how to grow it, all I've done is plant it in free-draining soil in a spot that gets lots of sunshine. I let it survive on our natural rainfall, and I don't feed it (although I did apply a seaweed liquid a few times, to encourage the roots to grow). I do pull out weeds that try to muscle in on its territory, but that's about it. Since I planted it out from its pot into the ground, it has spread a bit further, but it is a slow-grower. That's fine by me, I hope it bursts into bloom same time, next year.


Anonymous said...

what a lovely big bunch of faucaria's !!!!

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