Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Tradescantia somaliensis: Trichome-enhanced Beauty

Botanical Name:  Tradescantia somaliensis
Synonym:  Cyanotis somaliensis
Common Name:  Kitten Ears, Furry Kittens, Pussy Ears

Fig. 1  Newly replanted Tradescantia somaliensis from a 2-inch pot.

Tradescantia somaliensis  is an evergreen tender perennial with a notable tolerance dry conditions.  It is known to have originated from Somalia, as indicated  by its species name 'somaliensis' although it would not be a surprise to see find out that the plant is also native to other countries in the African continent with similar climatic conditions.

It is a curious plant with pointed (lance-shaped) leaves that are edged with striking trichomes which give the appearance of hairy kitten's ears. It's trailing growth habit and makes it an outstanding container plant (Fig. 2).  When grown outdoors, the plant needs protection from the direct afternoon sun particularly in the hot areas like ours (Zone 9).  For indoor cultivation, choose a bright location to ensure that the plant will remain compact.

The trichomes that line its leaf margins make Tradescantia somaliensis 
very interesting interesting plant.

Fig. 2   Tradescantia somaliensis: Fast-growing yet compact.

Propagation of this plant can be done easily through cuttings and layering.  In my case, I usually take cuttings after blooming period.  That way I get to enjoy the flowers first.

Once a year, try a new plant in your garden and learn about it. 

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