Sunday, June 23, 2013

Little Shop of Horrors: Burro Tail.

Remember how I said that there would be more weird plants now that summer has hit? I was right. Lo and behold, there was something very weird at a farmer's market in Frankfort. The lady at the stand called it "burro tail."

Burro tail is an odd one indeed. It's also called "donkey tail," but so are a few other things, so we'll still with "burro tail" or Sedum morganianum, thanks.  Like the chimeric "coral cactus" from earlier, it's a succulent, meaning that the plant's very wet on the inside as a means of surviving in dry climates. In this case, that means Ecuador and Mexico.

Burro tails are one type of trailing sedum - that is, they can get long. One of the most popular ways to present this houseplant is via hanging basket. As the plant grows, the "tails" drip down over the sides of the basket. These tails can get up to 24 inches - that's 2 feet- long. That's pretty impressive, especially after looking at its fleshy leaves.

This plant is weird in part because nobody is quite sure where it came from. Specifically, we aren't sure whether burro's tail is a domesticated subspecies of S. morganianum or a true cultivar. This is not weird compared to, say, Saliva divinorum, and there is no loss in fertility as would be expected of a hybrid, so at least it's stable regardless. It's a breedable plant, all right, but also sort of alien.

Y'know that advice I keep giving about how desert animals are easy to keep? That applies to plants, too. You can forget to water burro tails once or twice and they will do just fine. They also love sunlight, so keep succulents like this in a sunny spot with high temperatures. They're very hard to kill and look out of this world.

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