mother-of-thousands

Bryophyllum daigremontianum
habit (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
habit prior to flowering (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
leaves (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
close-up of leaves showing variegated undersides (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
young cultivated plants (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
Succulent
Basal
Simple
Red
Purple
Orange
Bluish-green
Variegated

A fleshy herbaceous plant with upright stems growing 30-150 cm tall. Its paired leaves are elongated in shape and have purplish blotches on their undersides. Tiny plantlets are produced along the toothed margins of these leaves. Its drooping bell-shaped flowers are borne in dense clusters at the top of its branched stems. These flowers (2-5 cm long) are usually red, orange-red or purplish in colour.

Common names 
Also known as: mother-of-thousands, chandelier plant, devil's backbone, Mexican hat plant, mother of millions, mother-of-millions, mother of thousands,
Family 
Crassulaceae
Deciduous 
No
Flowering time 
Year round
Native/Exotic 
Exotic
Origin 
Native to Madagascar.
Notifiable 
No
Council declaration 
Class R – Reduce populations
Known distribution 

This species has occasionally become naturalised in south-eastern and northern Queensland, and has also been reported from inland northern New South Wales (e.g. near Lightning Ridge).

Habitat 

An occasional weed of coastal environs, open woodlands, riparian vegetation, roadsides, waste areas (e.g. around rubbish dumps) and disturbed sites.

Habit 

A long-lived (i.e. perennial), fleshy (i.e. succulent), herbaceous plant growing 0.3-1.5 m tall.

Impact and control methods 
Stem and leaves 

"Its upright (i.e. erect) stems are branched towards the top of the plant. These smooth stems are relatively thick, greyish in colour and hairless (i.e. glabrous).

The leaves are oppositely arranged along then stems and borne on stalks (i.e. petioles) 2-5 cm long. The relatively large lower leaves (10-28 cm long and 2-5 cm wide) are elongated in shape (i.e. oblong-lanceolate) and often somewhat boat-shaped or folded. They have toothed (i.e. crenate or serrate) margins and rounded or pointed tips (i.e. obtuse or acute apices). They are also hairless (i.e. glabrous) and thick and fleshy in nature (i.e. succulent). Their upper surfaces are usually greyish-green in colour, while their undersides are paler with numerous small purplish blotches. The leaves gradually become smaller and narrower (i.e. lanceolate) towards the top of the plant, eventually becoming almost stalkless and bract -like amongst the flower clusters"

Flowers and fruits 

"The bell-shaped (i.e. tubular) flowers (2-5 cm long) are red, orange-red or purplish in colour and borne on stalks (i.e. pedicels) 4-6 mm long. They are drooping (i.e. pendulous) and grouped into tightly branched clusters at the top of the stems (i.e. in terminal compound cymes). Each flower has four petals (18-23 mm long and 3-4 mm wide) that are fused for most of their length into a tube (i.e. corolla tube). These flowers also have four greyish coloured sepals (4-7 mm long and 2-4 mm wide), a four-lobed ovary, four styles and eight stamens. Flowering occurs mainly during late winter and spring (i.e. from August to October).

The dry, papery fruit (i.e. follicles) remain enclosed in the old flower parts. These fruit separate into four sections (7-10 mm long and 2-4 mm wide), each containing numerous tiny brownish coloured seeds (0.6-1 mm long and 0.2-0.3 mm wide)."

Reproduction and dispersal 

"This species produces seed, but its main means of reproduction is vegetative via tiny plantlets that are produced along the edges of its fleshy (i.e. succulent) leaves. Dislodged leaves and broken leaf parts can also take root and give rise to new plants.

Mother-of-thousands (Bryophyllum daigremontianum) is commonly spread in dumped garden waste. Its very fine seeds are probably wind and water dispersed and its leaves and plantlets may also be dislodged and spread by animals, vehicles, machinery and slashers."

Similar species 

"Mother-of-thousands (Bryophyllum daigremontianum) is very similar to hybrid mother-of-millions (Bryophyllum × houghtonii) and mother-of-millions (Bryophyllum delagoense ). It is also relatively similar to resurrection plant (Bryophyllum pinnatum ), blooming boxes (Bryophyllum proliferum) and lavender scallops (Bryophyllum fedtschenkoi ). These species can be distinguished from each other by the following differences:

■mother-of-thousands (Bryophyllum daigremontianum) has relatively large boat-shaped or folded leaves (10-28 cm long 2-5 cm wide) that are always simple. These leaves are greyish-green in colour with some purplish blotches on their undersides (i.e. they are variegated) and have numerous teeth along their margins (i.e. marginal notches).

■hybrid mother-of-millions (Bryophyllum × houghtonii) has relatively small boat-shaped or folded leaves (4-8 cm long and 8-20 mm wide) that are always simple. These leaves are greyish or greyish-green in colour with darker blotches (i.e. they are variegated) and have numerous teeth along their margins (i.e. marginal notches).

■mother-of-millions (Bryophyllum delagoense ) has relatively small cylindrical (i.e. terete) leaves (usually less than 10 cm long and only 2-6 mm wide) that are always simple. These leaves are greyish in colour with darker blotches (i.e. they are variegated) and have a few teeth at their tips (i.e. apical notches).

■resurrection plant (Bryophyllum pinnatum ) has large, broad, flattened, leaves (5-25 cm long and 2-12.5 cm wide) that are often compound (i.e. trifoliate or pinnate). These leaves are usually bright green or light green in colour have numerous blunt teeth along their margins (i.e. they are crenate).

■blooming boxes (Bryophyllum proliferum) has large compound (i.e. pinnate) leaves with 7-11 leaflets (7-5-15 cm long and about 3.5 cm wide). These greenish-coloured leaflets are somewhat elongated in shape, flattened, and have numerous blunt teeth along their margins (i.e. they are crenate).

■lavender scallops (Bryophyllum fedtschenkoi ) has small, broad, flattened, leaves (1.2-10 cm long and 0.8-5 cm wide) that are always simple. These leaves are usually bluish-green or greyish-green in colour and have several pinkish or brownish blunt teeth along their margins (i.e. they are crenate).
It is also similar to donkey ears (Bryophyllum gastonis-bonnieri), which is cultivated but not yet known to be naturalised in south-eastern Queensland."