Friday, February 8, 2008

BABY TOES: Ficoidaceae-Aizoaceae Fenestraria Rhopalophylla

I'm up entirely too early this lovely Saturday morning, but I couldn't sleep. I have so much on my mind. I will be visiting some nurseries today, and I can't wait, plus I've been so caught up with my school work, that I haven't really had time to post any more articles on my nearly 30 specimens of succulents! It's been driving me bonkers! I got my school work done after 8:00 last night and now I'm kicking off my weekend of posts with my absolute favorite of all succulents:

The sweet and adorable Baby Toes!

This plant is bizarre and fanciful to behold. I loved it so much I had to have two of them, and picked one up for my friend Donna yesterday; a little beat up, but still salvageable! (By the way, I'm going through this plant rescuing thing, picking up prospective beauties and attempting to revive them at home). Okay, I've got to stop side tracking here. Anyway, the story goes that only the top portion of the plant leaf sticks out from the sand. It has this marvelous looking convex, bulging, somewhat translucent window at its tip that adjusts itself by becoming more or less translucent depending on the weather conditions. It does all this for optimum photosynthesis and protection from the harshness of the sun. This is why they say that if your Baby Toes aren't getting enough sun, the translucent window will spread further open and can change the look of your plant!

Let's get to the scientific stuff:

Family: Ficoidaceae (fy-koy-DAY-see-ay) meaning "fig-like"
Genus:Fenestraria (fen-es-TRAY-ree-uh) meaning window in Latin and rhopalophylla
Species: rhopalophylla
Common Name: Baby Toes
Min Temp: to 32 degrees F
Bloom: A variety of colors such as yellow, purple and white like a daisy! - Varies
USDA Zone: Zone 9
Exposure: Bright light/Partial Shade
Height: Under 6 inches
Origin: Cape Province, South Africa and South West Africa

Here's what The Cactus Collection has to say about it:

"Fenestraria or "Baby Toes" are very unusual plants from the deserts of South Africa. These plants belong to large family of Aizoaceae (synonymous with Mesembryanthemaceae), which includes plants known as "Mimicry" plants for their ability to camouflage with their environment. "Baby Toes" have finger-like leaves in upright clusters. Each "finger" has a translucent "window" at the tip, and it is through this window that the harsh African sunlight if filtered to enable photosynthesis. In habitat, often only these "windows" are visible above the quartz sand. Prefers a soil with less organic material; extra pumice or perlite provides excellent drainage essential to these type of plants. Requires bright light to prevent "stretching" of the leaves. Water thoroughly when soil is dry to the touch. Will not tolerate water-logged soils. Somewhat frost tolerant, but protection is advisable to prevent scarring."

As you can see from above, they list a different family name for Baby Toes. I listed the family that I found in one of the books I checked out from the library, ficoidaceae, but they list it as Aizoaceae, which means "evergreen."

Below is a beautiful bloom on my Baby Toes! It looks just like a pretty daisy!

And here is where my Baby Toes lives, protected by Sir Patrick Corridan, my fabulous garden gnome.

Side note: I sure wish the spell check was working...


Donna said...

The flower is beautiful. I have to take some pictures of the baby toes and lamb ears you got me yesterday. I need a new camera. Your pictures all come out so nice.

Kelly said...

You know, I'll come over and we'll take a ton of photos and upload them on your computer. I have the the CD for my camera...somewhere.... I better start looking for it now. That way you can tweek them at your home and do whatever you want with them. Worse case scenario: I don't find the CD, I have a flashdrive I can throw them on and let you upload them.....

I love the little flower's so sweet!

Julie said...

Your blog is becoming a wonderful resource for fellow succulent is great!

carla said...

I have a little baby toes plant and I'm worried about it. It has recently started to get indentions in its windows and little red looking spots. Do you happen to know what could cause this?

Janet Bower said...

I have a pot of baby toes. I have failed at many attempts to propagate the fallen leaves. They turn black in the same soil in which the mother plant lives. My mix is equal parts of sand, perlite and potting soil with a little bone meal. Any suggestions? Thx