Wednesday, April 20, 2011

MANFREDA UNDULATA, CHOCOLATE CHIPS

I was the lucky recipient, last fall, of a manfreda, Manfreda undulata 'chocolate chips' courtesy of a little competition held by Eleanor, at Garden of E.

The plant itself is pretty enough, with undulating leaves and large dark chocolate splotches. Perfect for a dark chocolate lover!
But when the plant begins to flower, then the show really begins. Over a period of two weeks the plant sends up a flower stalk 5 1/2' tall, and a cluster of flowers began to develop at the top.

The flowers open from the bottom up.

The sepals split and the stamens and pistil, which have been tightly folded on the inside start to unfold.

When the first flower was fully open I noticed a reservoir of nectar. I was tempted to taste the liquid to see if it was sweet. I thought maybe this was what humming birds might sip. Sweet it was but with a rather strange bitter taste as well. I'm not sure if hummingbirds do visit this flower. The anthers are so far from the pistil that I am puzzled as to how fertilization takes place.
Every morning new flowers open giving a spidery appearance to the plant.
It really is a thing of beauty. Thank you Eleanor.

15 comments:

  1. I'll second that. I have two, one from Eleanor, which is just sending up a bloom stalk, and another I bought previously, which is in full flower. It's been fascinating to watch.

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  2. That is really something special! It's a new plant for me, but definitely on my wish list now.

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  3. I love that foliage, but that is one *crazy* flower! I'm not sure yet if I like it... hoping you'll post more photos of it sometime soon.

    I taste nectar too! I'm thinking that might be dangerous on some plants though. Does any plant produce a toxic nectar?

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    1. Yes, my mother recently bought a "Fire Sticks" plant and it has a milky white and poisonous nectar. It has the potential to burn your skin and I would definitely discourage any tasting. :) Hope this answered your question.

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  4. Beautiful!!!!!! I haven't seen that plant before- I have seen the Macho Mocha which I like but this one is very impressive! Love the deep chocolate on the stamens. Curious if the hummingbirds will like it..... keep us posted. I am forever trying to lure them in you know....
    K

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  5. Wow! I've never seen anything like that - but I love it!

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  6. yay! what a treat! My manfreda just bloomed as well. Besides my soap aloes, this was my very first bloom spike in my year-old garden. and what a weird and wonderful one!

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  7. It is kind of other worldly looking...but, pretty. Another one I might have to try.

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  8. Looks like something from a science fiction movie.

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  9. How cool...those little nectaries are rad!

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  10. Wow, that is lovely. I have toyed with getting one for a while, but not sure how it will fare in my Zone 10.

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  11. Whoa...I have never seen anything like this! Spectacular!!!

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  12. Lancashire Rose - Wow - that is so impressive. Mine isn't near blooming and it doesn't look that happy either. Maybe you should come over here and play plant whisperer for my plants!

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  13. WOW!! That plant IS spectacular!!!! And when it blooms it is even more amazing. I have a feeling it needs your dry weather and probably wouldn't do in our humidity in s.w. Florida.

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  14. Does anyone know where I could purchase a chocolate chip Manfreda. I love this plant. Checked many local nurseries. Thanks, Barbara King

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