Showing posts from March, 2024

Echinoagave, Paleoagave, Paraagave, oh my

As Bob Dylan once said, “There is nothing so stable as change.” That’s true for a lot of things, but especially for taxonomy. Many people hate it when the botanical names they’ve painstakingly learned become something else. Others embrace it as a corollary of progress. Me, I’m OK with it as long as there’s a good reason. A big brouhaha ensued when in 2014 five new genera were split off the genus Aloe : Aloiampelos, Aloidendron, Aristaloe, Gonialoe , and Kumara . This wasn’t some random flight of fancy, but the result of molecular studies that shed new light on the evolutionary origin of what we call aloes. Now something similar is happening to agaves, although on a smaller scale. A couple of months ago (January 2024), a team of Mexican botanists published an article titled “New Genera and New Combinations in Agavaceae” in which they propose three new genera based on genetics, morphology, and the estimated time they diverged from the common ancestor of all agaves. I know, this is stuf

Other flowers in our garden in late March 2024

My previous post was about the winter-flowering aloes in our garden winding down for the season. While they do provide most of the flower power at this time of year, they aren’t the only players. There are pops of color all over the garden, courtesy of South African bulbs, California natives, assorted perennials, and succulents other than aloes. Sometimes I forget I planted something, and it surprises me with an unexpected burst of flowers. ↷ Lachenalia is a large genus of bulbs from Namibia and South Africa. They’re still a regrettably rare sight in American gardens and deserve to be grown more widely. The most common species is Lachenalia aloides , especially var. quadricolor . I started in 2016 with two bulbs and now have a nice clump. In fact, I’ve started to divide it and share the bounty with friends. Lachenalia aloides var. quadricolor Lachenalia aloides var. quadricolor A couple of other lachenalia: Lachenalia aloides var. vanzylae Lachenalia mutabilis Lachenalia mutabilis

The last of the aloes

As we approach the end of March, aloe flowering season is winding down. Even though the peak is behind us, there’s still plenty to see – and a few aloes are just now gearing up to bloom. This post is a collection of photos I took over the last few weeks. We’ve had the most beautiful spring weather, perfect for gardening and for greenhouse building . But the warm and sunny days also accelerated the demise of the aloe flowers that had been hanging on. Maybe I should reward my aloes with a bit of fertilizer now so they’ll be in great shape for next year’s bloom season! Aloe × spinosissima at the base of the ponytail palm trio Aloe × spinosissima (right), with Oscularia caulescens (pink-flowering, left) Aloe aculeata × esculenta . The flowers belong to the bluish plant at the bottom even though it looks like they come from the one on top ( Aloe lukeana ). ↷ My favorite aloe this season has been a hybrid called ‘Maui Gem’, a cross between Aloe mawii and Aloe globuligemma . Like its par