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Kalanchoe blossfeldiana
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Saxifragales
Family: Crassulaceae
Subfamily: Kalanchoideae
Genus: Kalanchoe
  • Kalanchoe
  • Bryophyllum (Salisb.) Koorders
  • Kitchingia (Baker) Gideon F.Sm. & Figueiredo


Kalanchoe /ˌkæləŋˈk./ KAL-ən-KOH-ee,[2][3] also written Kalanchöe or Kalanchoë, is a genus of about 125 species of tropical, succulent plants in the stonecrop family Crassulaceae, mainly native to Madagascar and tropical Africa. A Kalanchoe species was one of the first plants to be sent into space, sent on a resupply to the Soviet Salyut 1 space station in 1979.[4] The majority of kalanchoes require around 6-8 hours of sunlight a day; a few cannot tolerate this, and survive with bright, indirect sunlight to bright shade.[citation needed]


Most are shrubs or perennial herbaceous plants, but a few are annual or biennial. The largest, Kalanchoe beharensis from Madagascar, can reach 6 m (20 ft) tall, but most species are less than 1 m (3 ft) tall.

Kalanchoes open their flowers by growing new cells on the inner surface of the petals to force them outwards, and on the outside of the petals to close them. Kalanchoe flowers are divided into 4 sections with 8 stamens. The petals are fused into a tube, in a similar way to some related genera such as Cotyledon.[5]


The genus Kalanchoe was first described by the French botanist Michel Adanson in 1763.[6]

The genus Bryophyllum was described by Salisbury in 1806 and the genus Kitchingia was created by Baker in 1881. Kitchingia is now regarded as a synonym for Kalanchoe, while Bryophyllum has also been treated as a separate genus,[6] since species of Bryophyllum appear to be nested within Kalanchoe on molecular phylogenetic analysis, Bryophyllum is considered as a section of the former, dividing the genus into three sections, Kitchingia, Bryophyllum, and Eukalanchoe.[7][8][9] these were formalised as subgenera by Smith and Figueiredo (2018).[1]


Adanson cited Georg Joseph Kamel (Camellus) as his source for the name.[10][11] The name came from the Cantonese name 伽藍菜 (Jyutping: gaa1 laam4 coi3).[12]

Kalanchoe ceratophylla and Kalanchoe laciniata are both called 伽蓝菜[13] (apparently "Buddhist monastery [samghārāma] herb") in China. In Mandarin Chinese, it does not seem very close in pronunciation (qiélán cài, but possibly jiālán cài or gālán cài as the character has multiple pronunciations), but the Cantonese gālàahm choi is closer.[citation needed]

List of selected species[edit]

List of hybrids[edit]

Several hybrids within Kalanchoe are known:

Distribution and ecology[edit]

The genus is predominantly native to the Old World. Only one species originates from the Americas. 56 are from southern and eastern Africa and 60 species on the island of Madagascar. It is also found in south-eastern Asia and China.[14]

These plants are food plants for caterpillars of the Red Pierrot butterfly. The butterfly lays its eggs on phylloclades, and after hatching, caterpillars burrow into the phylloclades and eat their inside cells.

Cultivation and uses[edit]

Production of new individuals along a leaf margin of the air plant, Kalanchoe pinnata. The small plant in front is about 1 cm tall

These plants are cultivated as ornamental houseplants and rock or succulent garden plants. They are popular because of their ease of propagation, low water requirements, and wide variety of flower colors typically borne in clusters well above the phylloclades. The section Bryophyllum—formerly an independent genus—contains species such as the "air-plant" Kalanchoe pinnata. In these plants, new individuals develop vegetatively as plantlets, also known as bulbils or gemmae, at indentations in phylloclade margins. These young plants eventually drop off and take root. No males have been found of one species of this genus which does flower and produce seeds, and it is commonly called the mother of thousands: Kalanchoe daigremontiana is thus an example of asexual reproduction.[15]

The cultivars ‘Tessa’[16] and ‘Wendy’ have gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.[17][18]


Traditional medicine[edit]

In traditional medicine, Kalanchoe species have been used to treat ailments such as infections, rheumatism and inflammation. Kalanchoe extracts also have immunosuppressive effects. Kalanchoe pinnata has been recorded in Trinidad and Tobago as being used as a traditional treatment for hypertension.[19]

A variety of bufadienolide compounds have been isolated from various Kalanchoe species. Five different bufadienolides have been isolated from Kalanchoe daigremontiana.[20][21] Two of these, daigremontianin and bersaldegenin 1,3,5-orthoacetate, have been shown to have a pronounced sedative effect. They also have the strong positive inotropic effect associated with cardiac glycosides, and with greater doses an increasing effect on the central nervous system.

Bufadienolide compounds isolated from Kalanchoe pinnata include bryophillin A which showed strong anti-tumor promoting activity, and bersaldegenin-3-acetate and bryophillin C which were less active.[22] Bryophillin C also showed insecticidal properties.[23]

In Popular Culture[edit]

Kalanchoe play a major role in the Japanese anime and manga series The Yakuza's Guide to Babysitting.


  1. ^ a b Smith & Figueiredo 2018.
  2. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607; "Kalanchoe". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  3. ^ "8 Flowering Houseplants That Provide Color Without Much Fuss".
  4. ^ "Growing Pains". Air and Space Magazine. September 2003.
  5. ^ Crassulaceae Network
  6. ^ a b Baldwin Jr., J. T. (October 1938). "Kalanchoe: The Genus and its Chromosomes". American Journal of Botany. 25 (8): 572–579. doi:10.2307/2436516. JSTOR 2436516.
  7. ^ a b POTWO 2019.
  8. ^ Mort et al 2009.
  9. ^ Eggli 2003.
  10. ^ Adanson, M. (1763) Familles des plantes 2: 530
  11. ^ Camel, J.G. Herbarum aliarumque stirpium in Insulâ Luzone Philippinarum Primariâ Nascentium In: Ray, J. (1704): Historia plantarum Book 3, Appendix p.6, item 18
  12. ^ Chernetskyy, M. A. (2011). "Problems in nomenclature and systematics in the subfamily Kalanchoideae (Crassulaceae) over the years". Acta Agrobotanica. 6 (4): 67–74.
  13. ^ Kalanchoe, Chinese Plant Names, www.eFloras.org.
  14. ^ ird.fr: Allorge-Boiteau, L., 1996. Madagascar Centre de Spéciation et d'Origine du Genre Kalanchoe (Crassulaceae). Biogéographie de Madagascar, 1996 : 137-145
  15. ^ Reproductive Strategies: Plants. (1999). In Encyclopedia of Paleontology. Retrieved from http://www.credoreference.com/entry/routpaleont/reproductive_strategies_plants .
  16. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Kalanchoe 'Tessa'". Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  17. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Kalanchoe 'Wendy'". Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  18. ^ "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 56. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  19. ^ Lans, CA (2006-10-13). "Ethnomedicines used in Trinidad and Tobago for urinary problems and diabetes mellitus". Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine. 2: 45. doi:10.1186/1746-4269-2-45. PMC 1624823. PMID 17040567.
  20. ^ Wagner, H; Fischer M; Lotter H (April 1985). "Isolation and Structure Determination of Daigremontianin, a Novel Bufadienolide from Kalanchoe daigremontiana". Planta Medica. 51 (2): 169–70. doi:10.1055/s-2007-969441. PMID 3839925.
  21. ^ Supratman, U; Fujita T; Akiyama K; Hayashi H (September 2001). "Insecticidal compounds from Kalanchoe daigremontiana x tubiflora". Phytochemistry. 58 (2): 311–4. doi:10.1016/S0031-9422(01)00199-6. PMID 11551556.
  22. ^ Supratman, U; Fujita T; Akiyama K; Hayashi H; Murakami A; Sakai H; Koshimizu K; Ohigashi H (April 2001). "Anti-tumor promoting activity of bufadienolides from Kalanchoe pinnata and K. daigremontiana x tubiflora". Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry. 65 (4): 947–9. doi:10.1271/bbb.65.947. PMID 11388478. S2CID 45486312.
  23. ^ Supratman, U; Fujita T; Akiyama K; Hayashi H (June 2000). "New insecticidal bufadienolide, bryophyllin C, from Kalanchoe pinnata". Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry. 64 (6): 1310–2. doi:10.1271/bbb.64.1310. PMID 10923811. S2CID 25083265.


External links[edit]