Will you associate black as a leaf color? The normal answer is no but there are plants out there whose leaves are dark and almost colored black. Very unusual and yet very real. One of them is named Philodendron "Black Cardinal".
I tried to research the origin of its name but came up empty-handed so if anyone can help me out, I would appreciate it. I did wonder if it might have to do with color and if there was a Philodendron cardinal that would be red and that this was just the black leaf version. No such thing. During my research, I did come across a "black cardinal" bird which turned out to be Phainopepla; it is of a different family coming from Ptilogonatidae and not Cardinalidae. The only other cardinal that turned up during my Google search were news reports from Africa Resource and Scotland on Sunday detailing the appointment of Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson as president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, one of the most influential jobs in the Vatican, thus making him extremely papabile. He is very amicable in this video where they asked him about the possibility of becoming a pope. He seems to be gentle and endearing.
The name "Philodendron" is derived from the Greek words philo and dendron which mean "love" and "tree", respectively. So named because their normal habitat is arboreal; at the base of and climbing up trees. All are climbers; those that grow fast are classified as vining while those that grow extremely slow or imperceptibly are known as self-headers. The latters leaves are spaced so close together that the stem is not visible until some of the older leaves fall off. The 'Black Cardinal' is an example of a self-header.
There are many hybrids of philodendron among which is the 'Black Cardinal'. It is an interspecific hybrid developed from a series of crosses among P. wendlandii, hastatum, erubescens, imbe, fragrantissimum, and an unnamed species. It was released from Robert H. McColley's hybridization program, which began way back in 1951, at Bamboo Nursery, Inc. in Orlando, Florida.
The Philodendron 'Black Cardinal' has blackish green broad oval leaves. When new leaves emerge they are initially a burgundy red but as they mature they become a dark green and the more mature leaves a dark burgundy that appears almost black. The three colors can be seen in the picture below.
The black cardinal has a red stem. Like all aroids, this plant has a flower stalk (spadix) which is white-colored and surrounded by a protective leaf (spathe) which is blackish-red, cloak-like wrapping spathe around a white, finger-like spadix. Although I read somewhere that the Black Cardinal rarely flowers. This must be true because I have come across only one picture of it.
My Black Cardinal is potted in a small plastic container with coconut chips and coconut coir as planting medium. The plastic pot doesn't dry out easily compared to a clay pot. Coconut chips drain well but can retain moisture for long periods. It should never be placed under direct sunlight or its leaves will burn.
If you are interested in other plants with black-colored leaves, you may want to visit Mr. Subjunctive of Plants Are the Strangest People who has posted a list of other plants that have similar colored leaves.
Look, Jane, look.
Look at Dick.
Or better yet, look at my Dyckia.
The D. Platyphylla is from the Bromeliaceae family and is allegedly native to eastern Brazil.
According to Constantino of Dyckia Brazil, it is correctly written as Dyckia 'Platyphylla', with a capital "P" because the plant is not a species but rather a hybrid of Dyckia marnier-lapostollei X Dyckia brevifolia. It isn't clear though whether it is a natural or artificial hybrid. He also writes that claims of its existence in the wild have not been verifiable and rather that it is found in a collection in Rio Grande do Sul.
This is my D. Platyphylla. I don't know how Constantino manages to keep his Dyckias so well groomed. I really don't like handling the plant because the leaves' spines are incredibly sharp and scary . I almost punctured myself moving it around for the pictures on this post.
Loree of "danger garden" read somewhere that they should be placed in large pots to give the roots more room. Uh-oh! This is not one plant that I would want to repot. Look. Spines. Look. Sharp, scary spines. Remember?
Its leaves are relatively wider than the rest of the Dyckias. The leaves are a waxy dark green on top. The underside of the leaves are white and striated. There is a pattern of dots (for lack of a better word) along the middle. I have yet to figure out what these are. Possibly impressions left over from when the leaves were coming out. Understanding leaf morphology is difficult when one is not used to complex scientific terms. The Dick and Jane books did not prepare me for them.
The plant is supposed to bloom in winter. We have no winter so I wasn't sure if and when it would bloom at all. A few weeks ago, however, flower spikes started to grow.
The tips of the spikes look like this.
Based on what I've read, spikes can grow up to 30 inches in height. Way above the actual plant.
Note the buds beginning to open. The flowers are yellow-orange.
They are tubular. I've noticed that there have been a lot of ants since the flowers came out. Since the Platyphylla is supposed to be pollinated by hummingbirds and we have none, do you think it is possible that the ants can and will serve as pollinators?
Look, Jane, look. See the pretty flower.
For more Macro Monday, visit Lisa's Chaos.
I was watching this video when I thought of the concept of family. Family is the most fundamental social group where the members love each other and care for each other. I felt sad for plants because, unlike humans and animals, they can't have their own family.
I was wrong. Plants can have their own family and there is at least one family living right in my garden. I don't exactly know their surname but I do know each of them very well.
Meet the daddy.
He likes sunlight and enjoys the breeze of fresh air. He doesn't drink much water. He doesn't grow very big. He looks like a mini pineapple. When he is mad he turns red.
Meet the mommy.
Like the daddy, she likes sunlight too. She does not take a bath often because she might rot. She can hang upside down and this does not bother her. She can produce a beautiful pink or red inflorescence. She may look weird but daddy loves her still.
Meet the baby.
Baby got the genes of both daddy and mommy but I think more of mommy's genes.
Here's the portrait of this one happy family.