Dorstenia bahiensis- A plant you need to know?

Dorstenia bahiensis- A plant you need to know?
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Dorstenia bahiensis is native to forested areas of eastern Brazil.  Its unusual flowers first caught my eye and it is noticeably different from any other plant I know. Is this a plant worthy of your garden? Read on to find out more.

 Dorstenia bahiensi

I was first drawn to the unusual flowers of Dorstenia. The 1-2″ flowers look like an odd fungus held above the leaves. Varying in color from deep purple to a light lavender, the slightly cupped flower is hard to the touch although it looks as though it could easily be a slimy mass. With a nod to its fig relatives, the flowers look kind of like if you turned an edible fig inside out.

Dorstenia bahiensi

Top Tropicals cites “At maturity, seeds shoot ballistically from the mature flower/fruit heads, and they germinate readily whenever the land on soil or other moist substrate.”  It sounds violent but these are not an aggressive type of spreading plant.

The leaves of Dorstenia bahiensis are a glossy, deep green. They form a nice clump and work well as a tropical groundcover or understory plant, growing 6-12″ tall. Under dry conditions the plant may become deciduous, growing new leaves when there is adequate moisture.

Dorstenia bahiensi

In the Amazon basin Dorstenia bahiensis prefers moist soil and shady growing conditions. Dry conditions will cause it to go dormant but you can see that when it is happy it does add a tropical look to the garden. There is certainly a place in most shade gardens for a low plant with glossy, evergreen leaves.

Dorstenia bahiensi

I’ve read that it can be easily propagated by seed, although I don’t know when/how to capture those catapulting propagules!  The large group pictured allowed me to easily pull a few small plants from the outer edge to transplant. Most plants that go dormant in dry conditions tend to be easy to transplant and I am keeping my fingers crossed these are similar.

Dorstenia bahiensi

The only place I can find online to purchase Dorstenia bahiensis  is Top Tropicals. If you know of any others please leave a comment and I will add it to the (very short) list.  Dorstenia bahiensis seems to me to be a plant lover’s type of plant. Unusual, almost ugly flowers but rare and hard to find. That pretty much mean I want one! Will this plant start showing up at box stores? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be deserving of a place in your garden this year.
Dorstenia bahiensi


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