Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pedilanthus tithymaloides aka Devil's backbone, Zigzag plant,Jew Bush ...

Yikes! this poor baby is in need of a make over !!
meet my Devil's Back bone .. at least I think i have identified this properly as ...

Pedilanthus tithymaloides

it's a succulent in the Euphorbiaceae Family.

This one may be a variegated variety but when I received this it didn't have leaves so I am just starting to find out .

It (along with several others) was given to me by a home health aid who had a patient who had to move and could not take thier house plants with them .

The zig-zag shape of the stems are a dead giveaway for one of it's commen names , The Zigzag plant; but it also lends its self to another of the plants names, The Devils Backbone .

When the stems die and dry they turn very hard and white. These lend themselves nicely to dried floral arrangements when left tall and are very interesting additions in wood or floral crafting projects .

It is so over grown it's hard to know if the interesting turns and twist the branches are in are how the plant is growing or if these are remnants of some topiary form it once held .

Though after finding a few places "braided" , like in this photo, I am leaning toward the topiary theory...
I think.

Yup, Yup.

I'll bet it was neat looking in it's day .

The Jew Bush ( another name for this old fashioned house plant) likes Medium light and does not like direct sun light.

Apparently the light it was in previously was not quite bright enough as you can see from some of the first leaves, but I have read and seen other photos of the leaves and there are some solid green like these on the plant, but this plant had all solid green leaves , so I moved it to a bit brighter spot.

As you can see there is some variegation in the new leaf colors ( insert Big Cheesy Grin here), but again the "Variegated" variety should have some whites, pinks and darker reds ...
But i think i have the light .. almost right. which will help me find it's permanent home in the room it's in .

apparently there is a variety of Pedilanthus which the leaves of are used in the Philippines Medicinally . I don't think I want to try to use this one not Knowing EXACTLY what I have here.

As you can tell from this photo it is rather tall as well as unruly.. but now that I think I have it's name right, I can try to cut it back and propagate it.

(yes it's in the bath tub, my plants tend to get a bath at least every 2 weeks in the winter ) It's about 3 feet tall in it's current state.

This plant Likes to dry out between watering and being a succulent, can grow in cactus/succulent appropriate soil mixes.

It seriously needs to be transplant as well in to a mixture of equal parts, cactus potting mix, sand and leaf mold, and the cuttings will be placed in a mix of equal parts sand and peat to root ..

WOW! that's gonna take some doen' to untangle and make seance of all that .. but here goes......

Lots of new growth in there too .. that's very good news considering it sat from mid June till now with no leaves and no new growth . I was getting a bit worried i had killed it or it would never have leaves .

This plant apparently blooms with red "flowers" on the branch tips, which presumably lends it self to another of it's names , the Japanese Poinsettia.

Well, un-tangling didn't do much for it that I can tell , but it gave me a good idea of what there is to this baby. I think I may look into a large coconut fiber stake and see if I can tie the branches up and try to get them to straiten out.. or maybe look into a topiary frame of some sort... I am not sure yet. I bet this plant is over 4 foot tall if those branches where straight.

I think I am going to enjoy knowing and learning more about this plant...

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