Contents of the Summer 2011 Northants News
sex life of Dorstenia lavrani
You can click on Tina's images for a better view.
When I saw the first
pictures of the newly described Dorstenia
in the American Journal (CSJ Vol. 80, No.2, 2008), it was lust at first sight
and this became the plant I had to have.
is apparently unique in the genus as each plant produces only male or
female flowers (so it is dioecious), so to produce seed, plants of both sex are
needed. This contrasts with other dorstenias
that have flowers of both sexes on the same plant (and
are therefore monoecious) so that seeds are freely produced from just a single
plant. It’s quite a recent addition to the genus since it was only discovered
Lavranos in 1973 and named in his honour by Tom McCoy and Mike Massara in 2008.
In habitat it grows in shady moss filled cracks in a limestone gorge
gives a clue to the growing conditions needed in cultivation.
Then the challenging task of trying to obtain
some of these lovely plants began. In addition to its ‘proper name’, it is
also listed under various names such as Dorstenia
Taba’a Gorge, Dorstenia species Mait Plateau and Dorstenia
10341; these all relate to its habitat localities and collections from the
Republic of Somaliland. You
do need to ‘see
before you buy’
or check on the origin of the plants if you can, as there seem to be some
hybrids being miss-sold as D.
My first plant was a
purchase from Arid Lands in Tucson, Arizona, USA. This nursery does not sell
outside of America, but my purchase was assisted by a friend. The plant arrived
in July 2008 and soon started growing.
The original 'Arid Lands' plant of suspect parentage. Note unusual excessive branching.
Lots of small male flowers in the inflorescence (hypanthodium).
These plants do not seem very demanding. All
three plants were at least 3" tall when purchased so it’s perhaps the
seedling stage at which they are more difficult to re-establish. In the
greenhouse I grow them at a minimum of 12oC
on a bed of sand with under soil warming cables, out of direct sun in a slightly
shaded corner. The soil mix is 50:50 John Innes No. 2 and Tesco Premium cat
litter to make it free draining. I allow the pots to totally dry out before the
next watering, judged by weather conditions and also the cat litter is a useful
marker as it lightens as it dries out. Having the pots on sand does mean they
have nice moist roots without being wet. The unrooted cutting from Bob Potter
was dipped in hormone rooting powder and left for about a week, then placed in
damp Tesco cat litter at 25oC
for about 2 months until well rooted. For the winter they are pampered and come
to work where they live in a hot room, under lights at 25oC
daytime temperature and 18oC
at night with a 12 hour light-dark cycle. The humidity is set at 60% day and 75%
night; this is mainly to establish them as they are young plants.
All three plants are
slightly different looking as can be seen in the photos, the new male plant has
broader leaves which are a silvery, matt colour but it could be because of its
previous growing environment.
for the future
Dorstenias seem to
need a winter rest to promote flowering, so once my plants are larger I will let
them rest over the winter. In the summer I intend to do a complete repot of all
three plants so I have them all growing in exactly the same pots and soil mix,
so that any variations with the plant, leaf colour and shape will be genetic and
not due to cultivation differences.
I will let them grow unhindered in 2011 and then
in the summer of 2012 I intend to take cuttings so I have ‘back-ups’,
especially since the males are difficult to obtain so these will make good swaps
especially because I need another plant of Dorstenia
Finally many thanks to Colin for all his help and
Now here is a story that has
everything; passion, lust, uncertain parentage and maybe the future patter of
little Dorstenia feet. And I just love the name of that Nursery - Out of Africa,
Genus of the Moraceae (Fig) Family with about 105 genera. Most cultivated
species come from tropical Africa, Socotra and Madagascar. Dorstenia is named in
honour of the German physician and botanist Theodor Dorsten (1492 - 1552)
bearing separate male and female flowers on the same plant.
Dioecious: bearing either male or female flowers on separate plants