A-Z of Botany: Keiki


It is funny what I take photos of and what I don’t bother with either because I think I already have a photo or I don’t think I will ever need it. And so I cannot find a photo of what I wanted for today; a keiki. I still pronounce these as key-key although I think it should be kay-key. Keikis are plantlets that form on the flowering stems of plants and, in my experience they are most often seen on orchids (particularly phalenopsis or moth orchids) and henerocallis (day lilies). Often the keikis on daylilies remain green and health even as the flower stems start to brown and they can be taken off and potted. I had lots in the past few years – where are the photos! The same goes for keikis on orchids where they often form roots and even flowers while still attached.

Of course the photo is Kohlrabi! Although still not very common in UK cuisine, this is basically a turnip-like cabbage. The plants do not make cabbages and instead the stem above the soil swells. If you are the thrifty type that eats the tender stems of calabrese you will have a good idea of what it is like to eat! The kohlrabi sold in shops is invariably too big, tough and old to make you bother but as a homegrown crop it is easy and quick. The name comes from the German for cabbage (kohl) and turnip (rabi) which is all very logical, especially when the Latin name for turnip is itself Brassica rapa! Those of you who experiment with your veg or who have Italian leanings may know the vegetable rapini which is a green and mustardy, very fast growing ‘calabrese’ and which is basically a flowering turnip not a million miles away from oilseed rape!




Macro Monday answer

Yes it was the beard of a bearded iris –


In this case ‘Piste Noir’





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2 Comments on “A-Z of Botany: Keiki”

  1. Kathy Larson
    October 25, 2016 at 3:00 pm #

    In the US,the daylily society refers to them as proliferations,usually shortened to prolifs.I don’t know why!

    • thebikinggardener
      October 25, 2016 at 3:23 pm #

      Ah – that is interesting. And makes too I guess, though prolif sounds a bit too medical to me

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