Saturday, September 10, 2016

Avonias lifting branches: a theory (3 pics)

In the latest post I casually mentioned my observations regarding the behavior of Avonia albissima branches with ripe seed pots. I find it quite interesting. Apparently, the branches that otherwise lie flat on the ground at all times suddenly lift when the seed pod has ripe seeds in it. I've been watching the flowering Avonias closely since then and it happens regardless of whether they've been watered or not. Recently a couple of my Avonia quinaria plants have been flowering, too. They are normally not self fertile but it still happens from time to time that a seed pod develops. This time it happened again and look at that! The branch with a ripe seed capsule goes way up while the other one lies on the ground. 

I've developed a theory as for why Avonias are doing that. Completely unscientific of course!! :D You know, ripe Avonia seed pods workings are the opposite of Mesembs. The seed pods close up when they are wet and open when they are dry. Not only lifting the pod up to the sun makes it dry quicker and throw off the rests of the old flower it also surely helps distribute the seeds better with the wind. Moreover, if it happens to rain and the seed pod is on the ground it will be much wetter and therefore sealed for longer time. If it's in the upright position when it rains the pod can dry quickly in the sun and the seeds fall out before the ground dries ensuring better germination chances. What do you think?


  1. I think you are absolutely right! It is a survival (better chances for seed dispersal and seedling survival)technique. But, physiological, how does the development of a flower bud translate into the flowering stem physically lifting up?

    I've never seen this phenomenon mentioned any where in the literature. Maybe you have discovered something new! Or, maybe they only do it for YOU. ;) You do have a very special connection with your plants. Your plant observations often gives me something to think about, which is always fun. Thanks.

    1. Yes, unfortunately I am not qualified to understand what is going on behind the need to lift branches physiologically. The seeds in the pod are already detached so there's no need for the plant to direct resources that way. Maybe when the seed pod is ripe the plant "thinks" it can immediately start growing another flower/more leaves and pushes moisture into that branch? No idea :)

      The branches lift only for a day or less and it can easily be missed. I have observed it many times though. Avonias and Anacampseros really are curious plants. People should grow them more :) (I have seeds to share!)

      Well, don't hold in the thinking. I love reding you thought on everything!

  2. Hi Rika! I searched your blog and you talk a lot about the importance of light and watering but I didn't find anything about temperatures. Isn't the temperature key factor to get the plant into the right cycle?
    I've grown South-African plants on my windowsills for two years and mostly on intuition. I've never had a flower and after reading your blog (it's amazingly helpful!) it seems that their survival and good growth has been pure luck :D. I live in a very warm apartment and I've thought that since I can't give them temperatures under 20 degrees, I'm doomed to a life without flowers.

    1. Thank you for reading my blog Elina :) I'm very happy I can be of some help.

      I have no influence on temperature for my plants under my conditions therefore I don't take it under consideration. I grow them on the windowsill and the plants have it as warm as I want the room to be. I have never experimented with temperatures and therefore can not write about it or make suggestions based on own experience.
      However, if there is lots of sunlight and you can provide the resting period for your plants at the appropriate time there should be flowers. Here in Germany there's not enough sunlight and, unless the grower uses artificial light, the main goal is to keep them in shape. Flowers are a luxury for me :) I guess colder winters contribute to fliwering but I wouldn't know. I think temperature is just one of many factors. Your plants should flower without this factor if everything else is right. Good luck!

    2. You know how difficult it is to find information from the internet that is not only interesting but also relevant in your conditions. I really like that your blog is not only about pretty pictures but that you write about everyday stuff and little things and problematic plants.
      I live farther north from Germany and we have even less light here. Luckily I have southern windows but since the summer was as it was, I used artificial light for seedlings. Last year I tried first with lithops mix (without extra lamp) and it was a disaster - 40 seeds, 15 seedlings and only one survived. So now I have some aloinopsis, pleiospilos and faucaria babies under old table lamp and I'm afraid to remove it, because babies... I'm getting really attached :D I'm going to sow a lot more seeds next year so it won't be so painful to lose some. And maybe try same seeds with and without lamps to see, if there's anything to gain.

    3. Thank you so much Elina. This is really kind of you to say :) I appreciate it very much.

      The light here is not the best either but I never use artificial light for seedlings or other plants. I don't think it matters much in fact... If seedlings die it us not because of lack of strong light, it's because it's too hot (closed container + strong sunlight = they get cooked) or they were left in direct sunlight and got burnt or some algae/fungi/bacterial infection. None of it involves artificial light. They have the same chances of survival with or without the lamp light. The only thing that good/appropriate artificial light does is make them grow faster (good growing conditions are being simulated) without a pause for resting. In your place I wouldn't worry about that. I grow my seedlings just on the windowsill, no problem :)