You can’t hide from your family links

I apologise for the erratic posts over the past week. Time has been short because of other writing commitments that are devouring my time and energy! Good weather and the garden are calling me away from any time I don’t to put the laptop in front of me and the cat constantly demands play time.

But the houseplants need lots of watering too and I was giving the Zamioculcas ‘Raven’ a water the other day and noticed something odd sprouting from the base. Zamioculcas zamiifolia is a pretty remarkable houseplant. Although it does not like temperatures below 12c, not surprising given its East African origin, it is an easy plant to keep. It has thick, almost plastic, leaves, each divided into many segments on a tall rachis (petiole) that emerge from the rootstock at ground level. It is very succulent and, in nature, if dry, will disintegrate, growing again when water arrives. The leaflets provide a method of propagation. Although hardly a well known plant, commercial propagation was mastered in the late 90s and now it is to be widely found as a houseplant. The dark-leaved ‘Raven’ is new and a brilliant plant. Apart from cold, the other enemy of this plant is waterlogging and I have lost them before through this – I am ashamed to say. So this plant is on a windowsill, facing south, above a radiator – a spot where few plants would survive. But mine is flourishing and every new leaf is bigger than the rest – a good sign. It is allowed to dry out between waterings and fed about once a week. New leaves are greenish at first and develop their dark colouring as they mature.

Commonly called the ZZ plant, the name actually refers to the fact that it is allied to colocasia but looks like a zamia – a type of cycad – hence Zamioculcas zamiifolia – the zamia-leaved zamia-colocasia! It is often recommended because of its ability to absorb atmospheric pollution such as household contaminants. And it is usually stated that it can withstand almost any light levels. It will certainly survive low light levels, if you accept that it will grow only slowly and you water it little. But it is usually stated that it will not withstand direct sun. That seems odd, given its origin, though it does usually grow in the shade of rocks. But the strength of the sun here is unlikely to harm it and, as I say, my plant is in full sun and seems very happy. (I took the plant outside to photograph it – it does not live outside)

Anyway, to the point. It is almost impossible to believe that this is in the Araceae, the family that includes arum, zantedeschia and anthuriums. But it is a fascinating and varied family and no matter how varied the plant form and foliage, the flowers are the give away. I noticed this little spathe and spadix the other day, at the base of the plant, and it has lasted for several days. Nothing too showy I am afraid, but interesting none the less.

Right – the cat needs a play!




2 Comments on “You can’t hide from your family links”

  1. tonytomeo
    April 22, 2020 at 7:48 am #

    I was not even aware that it is an aroid! I suppose I could have figured it out if I had looked. I have been ignoring them because they became such a fad.

  2. Paddy Tobin
    April 23, 2020 at 12:15 am #

    An interesting plant.

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