What is this succulent plant?
September 26, 2011 5:45 PM   Subscribe

What is this succulent plant?

This plant is baffling us and those around us. Can anyone identify it? It seems to want to lay on the ground and throw pink roots off the woody stem. It looks sort of like many plants in look-up guides on the web, but none seem to match exactly.

Any help appreciated.
posted by buzzv to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think it is a kind of echeveria, but I don't know which one.
posted by interplanetjanet at 6:05 PM on September 26, 2011

I think it might be a species of Sempervivum (hens & chicks). Maybe try contacting these folks for more specifics if nothing turns up here.
posted by pilibeen at 6:15 PM on September 26, 2011

Voting for echeveria, but there may be know way to know for sure until it blooms.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:17 PM on September 26, 2011

Scrolling through the photos on this website led me to aeonium lindleyi, which looks similar in shape.
posted by janepanic at 6:18 PM on September 26, 2011

Actually, Sempervivum is more of a basal rosette....scratch that.
posted by pilibeen at 6:19 PM on September 26, 2011

Best answer: Graptoveria--maybe Debbie?
posted by Ideefixe at 6:20 PM on September 26, 2011

Send your photo to the twitter of the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. They'll know. @dbgtweet
posted by TishSnave at 6:50 PM on September 26, 2011

Response by poster: Yeah, I've been going back and forth between aeonium and echeveria, but not convinced of either. Graptoveria looks promising. Will do on the Phoenix link.
posted by buzzv at 6:51 PM on September 26, 2011

I've heard that referred to as a ghost plant. Googling is not giving me a definitive answer on the Latin name.
posted by Gilbert at 6:55 PM on September 26, 2011

It makes me think of Hens and Chicks, but I know absolutely nothing about succulents. It is a very cool-looking plant, though.
posted by aryma at 6:57 PM on September 26, 2011

I agree with Gilbert.
posted by halcyon_daze at 7:00 PM on September 26, 2011

Response by poster: Yeah, the ghost plant looks kinda good, but here's the thing that bugs me: All the ghost plant images show more overlap of the petals (leaves? whatever?) than the mystery plant. Each row of petals seems to even have gaps between them rather than any overlap. It's this loose petal/leaf structure that is baffling me.
posted by buzzv at 7:09 PM on September 26, 2011

Echeveria Subsellis, maybe? (Labelled Subsesselis in this collection of pics.)
posted by dws at 7:10 PM on September 26, 2011

Response by poster: I think I'm back to aeonium again after seeing pics like these, but they're more green than frosted. And then these graptopetalum are so close, but the ends of the leaves aren't curved the same. Then there's another graptoveria debbi, and I think that may win the prize. Good eye, Ideefixe!

Thanks for everything so far! More thoughts are welcome!
posted by buzzv at 7:38 PM on September 26, 2011

I've had these! Def looks like graptoveria to me!
posted by jbenben at 7:51 PM on September 26, 2011

I’m totally agreeing with the graptoveria debbi. My mother had one of these for years.
posted by Amalie-Suzette at 11:55 PM on September 26, 2011

Best answer: Here's the thing about succulents: growing conditions are going to change the color, thickness, and bloom (grey coating) on the leaves, so you can't go entirely by those characteristics. Plant ID is mostly done by blooms, leaf structure, leaf arrangement- things that are more quantitative than qualitative whenever possible. For instance, Graptoveria 'Debbie' is a compact, pinkish-purple plant when grown hard in more sun, and lighter green-grey, open, and lax when grown in more shade with more water. Echeverias (and some Graptoverias I believe, since they are an interspecific cross between echeverias and graptopetalums) have a tranverse leaf scar on the stem. Graptopetalums, Aeoniums, and other Crassulaceae have a rounder leaf stem, because the attachment point is succulent rather than flat. So start there. That should sort you into Echeveria/Graptoveria or Aeonium/Graptopetalum/Pachyphytum/Graptoveria. The next stem is to wait for bloom for more specific ID. Even succulent experts often need to key things out, because they look the same as other stuff. For example, Echeverias have succulent flower stems, Graptopetalums more woody. Who knows about Graptoveria- it is going to depend on the hybrid.

On top of that, there are plenty of mislabeled materials in the nurseries, and unnamed varieties as well. Without seeing the leaf scars on the stem, I could say with a great deal of certainty that your succulent is probably in the Crassulaceae family. If you look at the leaf scars, you could sort it into one of the two groups above to some degree (notice that Graptoveria is in both). That's as far as any botanist would go with certainty from the picture alone. If you wait for blooms, you might narrow down the ID a bit more.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:16 PM on September 28, 2011

Response by poster: Holy shit, dude, that's the kind of answer I would only dream of. Doubleplusgood! I was greatly puzzled by the wide variations in appearance in various websites for the same species. I thought that was mislabeling, but the natural potential for variation is an interesting contributor to the inconsistencies as well.

Thank you.
posted by buzzv at 5:46 AM on September 30, 2011

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