this is NOT plant trivia
ꕤ︎︎ ꕤ︎︎ ꕤ︎︎ ꕤ︎︎ ꕤ︎︎ ꕤ︎︎ ꕤ︎︎ ꕤ︎︎ ꕤ︎︎ ꕤ︎︎ ꕤ︎︎ ꕤ︎︎ ꕤ︎︎ ꕤ︎︎ ꕤ︎︎ ꕤ︎︎ ꕤ︎︎ ꕤ︎︎ ꕤ︎︎ ꕤ︎︎ ꕤ︎︎ ꕤ︎︎
did anyone ask for this?
fleeing like a vine
corning down the garden
flow'ring up the mind
splitting windows ardent
the richest rheum
no one asked for this.
There are many things to appreciate about plants besides those fancy leaves and flowers.
First, I caution you: this email's emphasis on appearance might make you think plants are decor. Houseplants are not decor. Decor is passive - if a plant is happy and well-cared for, it is an active participant in a space, producing oxygen, hosting booklice, fungus gnats, ants, and nematodes, etc.
Here are some nonstandard qualities that people like about domestic greening.
A variation in color
Variegation is a pretty obvious and common quality to like. While stress from cold, sun, or growth can cause plants to turn pink or red, variegation is a permanent non-green color. It can be many shades, like red, purple, yellow, orange, and white (the most common). If a plant is heavily variegated, it can lack photosynthetic potential and grow very slowly or not at all. This is why heavily variegated plants are grafted onto heathly green rootstock (more on grafts below).
The term "monstrose" is a little judgy. They're just a little blobby guys made of melted wax. Monstrose cultivars have fun names like "Mammillaria bocasana 'Fred'" and "Cereus forbesii monstrose 'Ming Thing.'"
When two species are artifically joined via the vascular system
The plant at top is called the scion and the plant below is the rootstock. Grafting is usually done for practical reasons (grafting a difficult to grow species on top of an easy to grow plant, speeding up growth for a slow growing variety, etc) but I also think grafts can be pretty. They can look odd, like peyote grafted to pereskiopsis, but a well-done graft of two complementary plants is a beautiful thing to behold.
illustration: Stenocereus hystrix grafted to Trichocerenus pachanoi6b. chimera a.k.a. “Annhiliation type shit”
When grafted species merge and their cells intermingle but remain separate
I don't want to be judgmental (Every Plant Is An Altar!), but graft chimeras are absolutely unsettling and bonkers weird. A bright red, slow motion, cellular car crash.
The cephalium is a pretty funky feature. It's a mass of bristles that the flowers form out of. I've see very satisfying videos of people plucking the ripe cactus fruits out of the cephalium with tweezers, like pimple popping but not gross. I hope that my little Melocactus forms a cephalium someday!