watered until the stems mature in late spring. Then water is gradually withheld and the plants kept quite dry through the summer months. Propagation is by seeds, which are formed quite freely, or by natural division of the bulbs,

The Mesembryanthemum Family—The A izoaceae

Fifty years ago the mesembrvan the mums {mes-cm-bri-an1 thc-mum) were considered simply a large genus in the A izoaceae (ay-eye-zoh-ay'-see-ee), or Carpetweed, family, the only other member of any importance being the genus Tefragonia, which provides our summer gardens with New Zealand Spinach. But after the turn of the century new explorations in South Africa disclosed lhat the mesembryanthe-mums were not only the most important genus in the Carpet-weed family but one of the largest groups of succulents in the world Almost overnight the genus Mesemhryanthemum grew from three hundred species to more than two thousand And, as had happened with the Cactus, it became obvious that some better method of classification must be found for the myriad plant forms and varieties the bulging genus now contained. In time it was divided into more than one hundred and fifty new genera, each according to its special char* acterislJcs of flower and fruit, and the old generic name Mesembryanthemum was retained for only a small group ot shrubby species. Now it has been suggested that these one hundred and fifty new genera be removed from the Carpel* weed family entirely and put in a new family called the


Despite these scientific changes, however, popular usage still clings to the old name mesembryanthemum, sometimes shortened to tlmescmb/* 10 refer to many plants in this famil\ which have long since been renamed Of course ins well-nigh impossible for the amateur to remember all the new names and fine distinctions that separate one genus from

another, but he can learn to identify the four main classes of plants in this family at nnce. First, there arc the erect, much-branched shrubby species, with succulent leaves and woody stems that grow up to iwo or three feet high. Second the creeping» mat-forming types that rarely grow over a foot high but have very long semi-woody stems and fleshy leaves Third, the compact, nearly stemless species whose succulent leaves are grouped close together to form short tufts or clusters only a few inches high. And fourth, the very small, highly succulent forms which often consist of only a single pa r of leaves and are stone mimics or "windowed" plants.

In addition to these varied plant forms the mesembryan-themums possess some of the most beautiful and brilliant flowers among all succulents. At first glance they resemble daisies, but closer examination shows ihem to he a single flower, not a head composed of a cluster of flowers, as in the Compositae. Despite their botanical name, which originally meant "noon-flowers/' mesembryanihemums do not bloom only in the sunny hours, but in late afternoon and evening as well. Their colors defy description, for they range through every brilliant tint and shade, every electric combination of white, yellow, pmk, red, and purple imaginable. They are generally large and produced with such lavish abandon that their effect is truly dazzling.

The fruit of the mesembryanthemunLs is a five-bided capsule with an ingenious system of vaives to regulate its opening, Unlike most seed pods, which open when dry the mesembryanihemums open only when wet. Because the areas they inhabit often receive no rain for two or three years, this water-operated release insures there will be enough moisture for germination when the seeds fall to earth. The capsules can be made to open at will, however, by soaking them in water for a few minutes, at which time the valves will lift and expose the small seeds below,

The brief summary which follows cannot describe all the

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