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|Young plants on leaf|
(Raym.-Hamet & H.Perrier) A.Berger
Bryophyllum daigremontianum, also called Mother of Thousands, Alligator Plant, or Mexican Hat Plant is a succulent plant native to Madagascar. Like other members of the genus Bryophyllum, it is able to propagate vegetatively from plantlets that develop on the leaf edges. All parts of the plant are poisonous (they contain daigremontianin and other bufadienolides), which can even be fatal if ingested by infants or small pets.
Plants reach up to 1 m (3 feet) tall with opposite, fleshy oblong-lanceolate "leaves" that reach 15-20 cm (6-8 inches) long and about 3.2 cm (1.25 inches) wide. These are medium green above and blotched with purple underneath. The margins of these leaf-like organs have spoon-shaped bulbiliferous spurs that bear young plants. The plantlets form roots while on the plant. The "leaves" are actually short, determinate, leaf-like branches that can be termed phylloclades or cladodes.
Adult plants can also develop lateral root structures on its main stalk, as high up as 10-15 cm from the ground. The plant has several nodes with two or three leaves on each node. The upper leaves of the plant tend to develop into disproportionately large structures, causing the main stalk to bend downwards and the lateral roots to take up root of their own, anchoring into the soil and eventually developing new primary stalks which establish themselves as independent plants.
Bryophyllum daigremontianum can also produce flowers, where the main stalk elongates vertically upwards by as much as 30 cm, within a couple of days, developing an umbrella-like terminal inflorescence (a compound cyme) of small bell-shaped pink flowers. Flowering is, however, not an annual event and will occur sporadically if at all. Particularly in climates with distinct seasonal temperature differences, flowering is most frequently observed at the beginning of a warm season.
As a succulent plant, B. daigremontianum can survive prolonged periods of drought with little or no water. It is however not frost-hardy and typically dies if subjected to temperatures below freezing.
Plants of the genus Bryophyllum as well as many other plants growing in arid regions photosynthesize through Crassulacean acid metabolism.
B. daigremontianum is native to the Fiherenana River valley and Androhibolava mountains in southwest Madagascar. It has been introduced to numerous tropical and subtropical regions, such as Florida, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and parts of the Canary Islands.
Kalanchoe daigremontiana county distribution in Florida.
- "Bryophyllum daigremontianum factsheet". University of Queensland. Retrieved 12 January 2014.
- Everitt, J.H.; Lonard, R.L.; Little, C.R. (2007). Weeds in South Texas and Northern Mexico. Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press. ISBN 0-89672-614-2
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