Monday, March 1, 2010

A case of mistaken identity

Time and budget permitting, I ask my trusted gardener (a.k.a. Mom) and her assistant (a.k.a. Dad) on a trip to garden stores to look for some plants that I have in mind. To prevent mistakes, I usually mail them a list with their corresponding pictures. After a store by store search they head home and then send me a text message of the plants that they were able to find.

Two clumps of Calathea lutea in the garden.

On one particular trip, one of the plants in the list is called a "Rattlesnake" plant (Calathea crotalifera). From the text message I received later, they were able to find and buy it.

Months later, when I went home to visit, there I was staring at a plant that I'm unfamiliar with. Mom said it's the "Rattlesnake". The leaves look the same, but the bracts (where the little flowers come out) are not, this one is conical while the "Rattlesnake's" is flat.

Calathea lutea in bloom.

It turns out the plant they brought home is a Calathea lutea or "Cigar plant", among its other names. It's easy to mistake this for the other because of the similarity of their leaves. It may have been the wrong plant but still, a great plant specimen. They have successfully propagated it and is growing well in the garden. It's a beautiful mistake.

While I was there, we bought other plants and this time I made sure we got the real "Rattlesnake".