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Home > Products > Succulents > Kalanchoe luciae & K. thyrsiflora

  Kalanchoe luciae
Kalanchoe luciae
Kalanchoe luciae [K thyrsiflora, Hort.]
In another bit of horticultural confusion, the plant long grown in the California succulent trade under the name of Kalanchoe thyrsiflora is actually the closely related Kalanchoe luciae. First described in 1908 by Raymond Hamet, the specific epitet is to honor a Lucy Dufour. In March-April 2001 issue of the Cactus and Succulent Journal this confusion of names is discussed in an article by John Trager with a picture of the true Kalanchoe thyrsiflora. The article notes that:
"The plant commonly distributed under this name [Kalanchoe thyrsiflora], sometimes with the whimsical common name - coined by one enterprising nurseryman - of "flipping flapjacks" is in fact the related K. luciae ssp. luciae. Both species bear the fleshy, paddle-like, obovate leaves to which the common name refers. Those of K. luciae blush deep red, especially with cool winter temperatures. Those of K. thyrsiflora are more uniform chalky green or white, covered with a thick flour-like coating of wax. The flowers of the two species also differ. Those of K. luciae are not strongly scented and have an urnceolate flower tube with pale-yellow lanceolate corolla lobes. Those of K. thyrsiflora are heavily sweet scented with a cylindric flower tube and brilliant yellow broadly obovate lobes."
San Marcos Growers has grown Kalanchoe luciae since 1999 under the incorrect name of K. thyrsiflora. In our 2005 catalog we have corrected this error. As the true Kalanchoe thyrsiflora is an exceptionally attractive plant itself, we at one time decided to grow it as well but it was a little less plant and we now only have it in our collection and only continue to grow the ture Kalanchoe thyrsiflora. To add more confusion to this story,on The Plant List, the extensive database of plants that is the result of collaboration between the Missouri Botanic Garden (MOBOT) and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, incorrectly lists Kalanchoe thyrsiflora as a synonym for Kalanchoe tetraphylla but in MOBOT's own Tropico database it correctly notes that Kalanchoe tetraphylla and Kalanchoe thyrsiflora are separate taxon. Bernard Descoings' treatment of Kalanchoe in The Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Crassulaceae(2003), list both species separately as well and makes the note that Kalanchoe tetraphylla is:
"a very rare species closely related to K. synsepala. They form a small group distinct from all other species of the genus by their habit, their growth form and additional characters."
Unfortunately many online sources have followed this synonymy and also missed the misidentification of Kalanchoe luciae so that often the common "Paddle Plant", Kalanchoe luciae and Kalanchoe thyrsiflor are both often listed incorrectly under the name Kalanchoe tetraphylla. We do not grow Kalanchoe tetraphylla but have it in our collection and it is pictured here. and Kalanchoe luciae in the future.

The true Kalanchoe thyrsiflora

Kalanchoe thyrsiflora flowers (Image by J. Trager)

Kalanchoe luciae flowers