Friday, December 28, 2012

Doesn't look like a donkey tail to me!

Species name: Sedum morganianum

Common name: burro's tail

Location: UWO Greenhouse

As you may or may not be able to tell, the group of plants for my last few blogs were all native to Mexico and the surrounding area and this plant is no different. Burro's tail is native to southern Mexico and into Honduras, where it is incredibly common. This plant is also a very popular houseplant in hanging baskets (as is growing in the greenhouse, but it can also grow along the ground), and can survive in some areas in the southern United States. It is drought-tolerant due to its fleshy, water-storing leaves, and can actually be damaged very quickly by over-watering. Watering once a month during the non-flowering season and once a week or every two weeks from spring to summer is more than sufficient. I tried growing this plant once and managed to kill it in 7 days; a record for me. It was sitting on a heater in the window, one of the only places I had in my apartment to grow plants. Ironically enough, if I hadn't of watered the plant almost daily because I thought the soil was getting too dry being on the heater, it probably would have thrived and taken over the entire living room! Lesson learned: when you get a new houseplant, look up how to care for it on the internet!

This plant is an interesting lesson in Spanish and English translations. The other common name for this plant is "donkey tail", and "burro" is the Spanish word for donkey. There is another cultivar that is very commonly grown as a houseplant called the "burrito" cultivar. Did you know that a burrito is a baby donkey?! You can probably imagine how this cultivar is different from the species growing in the wild. I will never be able to look at a burrito while eating dinner the same way again...

As with many of the plants featured from the greenhouse so far, please exert extreme caution should you choose to grow this plant indoors and have cats. The plant is incredibly toxic to humans and other animals alike, but due to its growth habit this plant looks especially like a cat toy hanging off a table. Even ingesting one leaf of this plant could seriously harm the digestive system of a cat or small dog, and the plant is prone to losing leaves on its own.

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