mystery plant

I mentioned a few posts ago that one plant of mine has remained a mystery. This is a photo of said plant, albeit not current. I initially thought the pink bit was it flowering, which was incredibly exciting because indoor plants don’t really flower for me–something about forcing succulents to survive Minnesota winters with northern and eastern exposures, three deep at the window? Not super popular circumstances for plants to flaunt what they’ve got.

This one didn’t either, but I had the thrill of thinking it had, with that bright pink little topper on its branch. I don’t have other photos of this one handy because it’s wintering in a home with a southern exposure. That makes me sound like a much more loving plant parent than I am in this case–in reality, I was running into the constraints of thorny plants with extending branches, limited window space, and equally limited elbow space. Living creatures were getting close to drawing blood or having limbs accidentally broken off.

This beauty is a thrift store mystery. I can tell you that it cost me somewhere around $1.00, give or take $0.50. I’ve had it a few years.
Sun: it appears to prefer indirect light–when it gets too much direct, the leaves look washed out
Water: its leaves have a bit of a succulent feel about them–a little thickness and waxy–but I have yet to get them to root (albeit with minor effort) and they dry up more like non-succulents when it wants more water.
Roots: It has more of a single bulbous root than my succulents or clover, more akin to my ponytail palmy plants (those suckers, via Ikea years and years ago, are hardy. I returned from five weeks in Korea and was asking my roommates if they’d watered them. Yep, the ones right there on the table! And the ones on top of the cabinet? What ones—oooooh!* Still alive, Given water, they even grow!)
Leaves and branches: It produces a cluster of leaves at the end of each branch. The branches are irregularly shaped and long, with a heavy smattering of actually painful thorns. The leaves start out red, then turn green, sometimes with red undersides. New leaves come out of the center/ends of the current set. So far I’ve seen no new branches form.

Any idea what this plant species it is? Are there other important details you need in order to identify it?


Additional details. Plants are forgiving recipients of thrift store purchases. I’m a fan of the Zanesville pots, as seen adorning the string of pearls plant, especially the cream ones with their horizontal striping. I like the heft they have to them, their organic imperfections, their variety of styles/sizes, the modern graphic feel of their simple striping, and their price at the thrift store. I also have a weakness for footed things (the brass lions under it) and patinaed items (see the plastic pot stuck haphazardly in the blue-green leafy-metal pot to the right. The far pot is another spiffy little vintage number, this time with a brown glazed interior, an exterior reminiscent of cork, and no signature. And the vertical cobalt stripes is a more modern piece, via thrift stores.

Unseen: the mystery plant is in a simple terracotta–I gave it something with actual drainage holes because I didn’t want it to die before I knew what it was. It’s set in an old apple-sauce-strainer-frame. You’ll notice a lot of my plants are elevated–part of this is for light, part for aesthetics (to vary the lines), and a decent bit because radiators tend to be well-placed for plants (right under windows) and equally well-suited to dooming them (bake them roots up).


* For the record, my roommates were not to blame for my hiding plants up on top of cabinets and their agreement to water them came without directions and before I extended my stay. They remain pretty much two of the three best roommates Craigslist has ever produced.

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