The Kalanchoes are a wonderfully diverse group of plants belonging to the Crassula family. Other members of the Crassula family includes the Sedums, Sempervivums, Graptopetalums, Echeverias and many others. All are leaf succulents, and many of the species are popular perennials and houseplants. The Kalanchoes are especially popular plants with collectors. Many of the Kalanchoes have remarkably fuzzy or felted stems and foliage, other species, including the "Mother of Thousands" produce tiny plantlets on the leaf margins, enabling the plant to colonize large areas with iden ical clones of itself; many species produce colorful or attractively marked foliage. A few species, including Kalanchoe blossfeldiana are grown for their vibrant floral displays. Approximately 125 species of Kalanchoe are recognized; the species are distributed through Africa, southern Arabia, Socotra, and Madagascar: a few species originate from south eastern Asia, and one is reputedly native to the new world, but the greatest diversity of species originates from Madagascar and southern Africa. The Kalanchoes vary in size from several inches to giants such as Kalanchoe beharensis, which can grow to nearly 10 feet tall. One of the diagnostic traits of the genus are its flowers, which are distinguished by having their parts in multiples of four: 4 petals, 4 sepals, 8 stamens, and 4 free (not united) carpels.
Kalanchoe rhombopilosa, the "Pies From Heaven" plant, is a particularly attractive plant; its foliage bears decorative markings, with a grey base contrastingly streaked and splotched with darker chocolate browns. The leaves are curiously shaped, and true to its common name, the leaves are reminescent of a slice of pie, roughly triangular, with 2 sharp edges, and with the outside rim curved and crenulated, very much like the pinched edges of a pie crust. While not immediately obvious, the leaves are minutely felted, with the surface completely covered with extremely short fuzzy scales or fibers as can be seen in this image. Plants are sparsely branched, but fuller plants may be produced by pruning the growing tips to encourage branching. This is a comparatively small plant, growing to about 12 inches in height, and is moderately branching, so plants are typically easy to maintain in relatively small spaces, and mix well with other small to moderate sized succulent plants in dish gardens and smaller planters. in miis nevertheless a particularly attractive species: The flowers of this species are minute, barely larger than a pinhead, with 4 tiny, yellowish green petals and 8 stamens
This is an easy plant to grow, and responds well to my general guidelines for growing cacti and other succulents. I especially recommend growing this as a patio plant when the weather permits