New plant alert!

So I went and checked out the Chicago Flower and Garden show the other day.  I’ll post about that later.  I decided my first post will instead be about one of the new plants I got there!  This lovely little gem of a plant is Cyphostemma juttae.  I stopped at the Chicago Cactus and Succulent booth to see what they had and I noticed a familiar looking lump of botanical oddity.  I thought I knew what it was but I wasn’t entirely sure so I had to ask one of the ladies working there if she could bring it up so I could read the tag.  I saw the first letter on the tag and immediately said “OH MY GOD I HAVE TO HAVE THIS”.  I think I freaked her out.  Lord knows they had no interest in helping me initially.  It took me a full ten minutes to even get someone to acknowledge my existence even though they’d help anyone else who came along (why do plant societies always seem to have such a bias against 20something guys?  I had the same problem at the African Violet table) so when I got so excited over that ugly little stump they must have known I was wacko.  I know I know, right now it just looks like an STD infected piece of the male anatomy but trust me, it will eventually get cooler (or uglier if you believe this list, which I don’t because I own or have owned 6 of the 10, a close relative of another and want 2 of the remaining 3…even before I saw this list).

So why am I so excited about Cyphostemma juttae?  Well for one I collect caudiciforms (plants with large swollen stems, generally from arid climates).  I also collect a group of plants I refer to as alliforms but I don’t think that’s really a term (I use it to describe my various plants [all of which seem to be in Hyacinthaceae] that have bulbs like onions or some other oniony aspect about them).  These guys get huge leaves in the summer and go dormant for the winter.  If you want to see a mature (or at least more mature) one and you live in the Philadelphia area go check out Longwood Gardens, they’ve got a beautiful one in the Mediterranean house.  Or you could just look it up on google.  They’re a pretty excellent plant.  This website also has some great pictures of mature specimens.

Cyphostemma are native to that Botanical Paradise known as South Africa.  They also go into Namibia because plants don’t really care much for artificially created borders.  They’re in the family Vitaceae along with grapes and Virginia creeper (and my beloved Parthenocissus stricta! It’s still doing great for all 2 of you who even remember it’s existence).  I’ve never had one personally so I don’t know a TON about growing it first hand but I’m going to treat it just like my baobab (Adansonia digitata) and hope for the best.  This one might even be easier since it has a fleshier trunk that will tell me when it desperately needs water!  Ahhhhhhhhhhhh I’m so excited for this one to start leafing out, you have no idea!

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