Wednesday, 14 October 2009

The Devil's Backbone and Other Plants

One house plant I have grown on and off for many years is a Bryophyllum. (bryophyllum daigremontianum) Not really a great looker but I find it fascinating. Each plant grows as a tall gangly looking stem with thick leaves edged with serrations. As the leaves mature a tiny new plant grows at each of these indentations producing scores of new plants. Hence one of its nicknames - Mother of Thousands. Another name being the Devil's Backbone. As these little plantlets mature, still attached to the parent leaf, they even grow roots and when fully mature they drop off to start new plants.


Bryophyllum Plantlets
Eventually the parent plant will put out flower spikes and produce small pale flowers.
There is a web site devoted to these plants which can be found HERE.

One plant I have wanted in the garden for a long time is the Chinese Lantern Plant (Physalis franchetii). I have tried growing them from seed taken from local plants to no avail so when I spotted some in Woodthorpe Garden Centre I couldn't resist buying a couple, especially as they had been reduced in price! By the looks of the thick strong root system it would appear they could spread rapidly so mine will be container grown. The beautiful thin orange seed cases really brighten up a dull Autumn day looking all the world like Chinese lanterns.

Chinese Lantern Plant

Finally a plant I had to order. I first saw the flowers on the Persian Pink Silk Tree (Albizzia julibrissin rosea)  HERE - middle two photos -  on Crista's blog Nature As Is and fell in love with them. Reading around it would appear they can survive frosts when a decent size as long as they are in a spot sheltered from cold winds so I thought I would give them a try.

Here are my recent arrivals. One very small as yet and the other grown outdoors, though further South in the country, and large enough to be outside all year. They are deciduous and are close to losing their leaves ready for the Winter. Guess who had to investigate what I was making a fuss over.

Persian Pink Silk Trees

They will both live in the conservatory for now and I will probably pot the larger one in a container so it can be moved if the weather turns really cold. Although the leaves look very much like those of the Sensitive Plant (mimosa) these are a completely different species and the leaves do not respond to being touched.


  1. Love the picture of the Chinese Lantern plant, John.

  2. The close up of the that first plant (kalanchoe is what we call it in the US) with the tiny plantlets on the big leaf is so clear and detailed. Hope all your plants survive the winter. cheers, Wilma

  3. Oh John I see your trees came!!! Fabulous, make sure they are semi protected this year. They are young and not established yet. We have heavy frosts here and they do just fine in our climate and I know they will do well in yours. Do you have a green house John?? I can't remember if you do. By the way Chinese Lantern's are my favorite fall plant...reminds me of Linus in Charlie Brown's Halloween cartoon, standing in the pumpkin patch waiting for the great pumpkin to come and give him gifts and candy. Funny how some things give such small pleasures.

  4. Hi Emma. They do always look a treat. I must make sure they don't grow too leggy.

  5. I will do my best to keep them all alive Wilma. I have a few other plants I have to move to the cold greenhouse and wrap up well for each Winter.

  6. Hi Crista. Yes they were delivered very quickly. My little greenhouse is unheated so some plants I overwinter in the conservatory. It is unheated but stays at least four degrees above the outside temperature so most plants cope in there.

    I have always admired the Chinese Lantern Plant and this year was the first time I had spotted them for sale locally.

  7. If you lived near to me you could have had Chinese Lanterns galore! I am always pulling them up, your decision to grow them in pots is probably a good one! They are very colourful though and if you are so inclined are lovely when dried and displayed indoors.

  8. Hi Jan. One look at the thick root system in a small pot spelt 'invasive' and these days I will only grow things in the ground which have a single stem and won't spread all over the place.

    I used to see Chinese Lantern Plants in lots of gardens but not very few these days. Plants go in and out of fashion and invasive plants seem much less welcome nowadays.


Thank you for visiting. Hope you enjoyed the pictures. Any comment, or correction to any information or identification I get wrong, is most welcome. John

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