Edithcolea grandis var. baylissiana
Edithcolea grandis var. Baylissiana is native to Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Socotra, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda and Yemen where the plant can spread up to 1500 m of altitude. The succulent grows in drought and arid regions.
Edithcolea grandis var. baylissiana is the only one species of the genus Edithcolea, belonging to the Apocynaceae botanical family. The plant has a creeping habit and it is perennial and leafless. The stem is quadrangular, thick, fleshy, pale green in color with reddish spots and it is arranged in acute, tooth-shaped tubercles. The variety baylissiana has shorter and spirally twisted stems and is often heavily branched. The succulents can reach up to 10 cm in height and 30 cm in diameter. Blooming occurs during the summer and the blossom is borne at the tip of the plant. The flowers are bisexual and the corolla is penta-lobed, from yellowish to maroon with reddish spots and hairs on the margin of the lobes. The flower gives off an unpleasant smell that resembles the smell of a carcass but which is useful for attracting flies and promoting pollination. The fruits are follicles full of seeds. The seeds are oval shaped and bear a tuft of hairs.
This is a slow growing plant, easy to cultivate. The plant can be placed in both direct sunlight and light shade, but if you first place it in light shade and then decide to move it outside to direct sunlight, do so gradually to allow the plant to get used to it. Long exposure to direct sun-light can cause burns and burnt spots. The maximum resistance to cold is 12 °C so it is recommended not to expose the plant to lower temperatures. Too low temperatures can cause the stem or leaves to break due to water freezing inside the tissues. Temperatures between 12 and 15 °C allow the plants to enter vegetative rest which is essential for the flowering of the following year. Plants should not be placed inside the house where average temperatures of 20 degrees prevent vegetative rest. The soil should be mixed with pumice, clay and loam to allow the drainage and prevent the root rot, the plant is prone to it indeed. The pumice should always be placed on the bottom of the pot. Remember to use a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly during the vegetative period. During the vegetative period you can water the plant every 5 days with half a glass of water, checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow the plant to enter dormancy. Decrease the amount of water if the plant is kept indoors or if the pot is smaller than 12 cm. The plant is used to growing in poor soils, for this reason it does not need abundant fertilization, it is sufficient to fertilize once in spring and once in summer. If the pot starts to be too small for the plant you can repot the plant in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil; it is usually done every 3-4 years. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.
Propagation is usually done by seed but cutting is also possible. By cutting you can use the offsets during the spring. Cut an offset and then let it dry; after a few days the cut surface will dry and a callus will form, then place the cutting in a mixture of sand, soil and pumice. To increase the success of propagation you can make two or more cuttings at the same time. It is advisable to use rooting hormone at the base of the cut to energize root development. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 27 °C. Propagation by seed it is not recommended for this species because it is very slow. To fast the propagation, you can try to immerse the seeds in water for 1 day. Sow the seeds in a sandy loam and keep them in warm and humid conditions.
This genus was named after Edith Cole, who collected some specimens in the Henvenya valley, in northern Somalia. Together with Louisa Lort-Phillips, she picked up a lot of specimens of then still unknown plants during a botanical expedition from erbera to Golis mountains, led by Ethelbert Edward Lort Phillips. These two botanists collected almost 70 unknown species during the expedition!
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