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Monday, May 16, 2011

Aeonium arboreum,Crassulaceae

I can't remember how long I've had this Aeonium - it must be a decade at least - and throughout that time it has produced nothing but these geometrically attractive spiral whorls of succulent leaves on a woody stem that.....

... bears a spiral pattern of leaf scars left by the old leaves that die and fall off.

This year it has finally switched into flowering mode and produced a spectacular inflorescence. The whole plant is about a metre tall.

This will be its final hurrah - like some bamboos and the century plant Agave americana, Aeonium arboreum is monocarpic , gradually accumulating the stored energy required to produce its flowers and seeds and then dying.

Botanical trivia: Aeonium is the only genus I can think of that contains all five vowels in a single name - useful to contemplate, maybe, if you are compiling quiz questions for your gardening club?