Kalanchoe (kal-un-KO-ee)


Relatives: Relatives: Crassula, Echeveria, Sempervivum, Cotyledon

Kalanchoe is a genus of about 125 species of tropical, succulent flowering plants in the family Crassulaceae, mainly native to Madagascar and tropical Africa. Kalanchoe was one of the first plants to be sent into space, when it was sent on a resupply to the Soviet Salyut 1 space station in 1971. The genus was first described by the botanist Michel Adanson in 1763. The genus is predominantly native to the Old World. Only one species of this genus originates from the Americas, 56 from southern and eastern Africa, and 60 species in Madagascar. It is also found in south-eastern Asia and China. These plants are the food plant of the caterpillars of Red Pierrot butterfly. Kalanchoe are commonly cultivated as ornamental houseplants and rock or succulent garden plants, and are widely loved for their ease of propagation, low water requirements, and a wide variety of flower colors typically borne in clusters well above the phylloclades (shoot systems in which leaves do not develop; rather, the stems become flattened and assume the photosynthetic functions of the plant.) In traditional medicine, Kalanchoe species have been used to treat ailments such as infections, rheumatism and inflammation. Kalanchoe extracts also have immunosuppressive effects. Kalanchoe has proven to be poisonous to some grazing animals in Africa and Australia.