Friday, November 20, 2009

List: Houseplants Native to Mexico

This is not even remotely an exhaustive list: Mexico is big, and diverse, and is home to a substantial chunk of the world's succulents, and a really stupidly large percentage of the world's cacti. Also, the Chihuahuan and Sonoran Deserts both straddle the U.S.-Mexico border, so some of their plants do as well, which means that some of these "Mexican" plants might be perfectly normal residents of the U.S. too. Which is fine. They can do that if they want.

As before, I'm happy to add additional plants to the list, if anybody wants to suggest any in comments.

Astrophytum myriostigma (bishop's-cap cactus).

Beaucarnea recurvata (ponytail palm).

Chamaedorea metallica (metallica palm).

Echinocactus grusonii (golden barrel cactus).

Pedilanthus tithymaloides (devil's backbone).

Sedum morganianum (burro's tail, donkey tail).

Selenicereus chrysocardium (fern-leaf cactus). Also Central America.

Tradescantia zebrina cv. (wandering Jew)

Vanilla planifolia, variegated (vanilla orchid). Also in Central America, I believe.

Zamia furfuracea (carboard palm).

As far as a favorite three of these goes, well, longtime readers will not be surprised to find out that Pedilanthus tithymaloides is number one. After that it gets hard to pick, since I have all but one of these (I don't own a Vanilla) and like most of them. But the #2, 3, and 4 spots would go to Chamaedorea metallica, Astrophytum myriostigma, and Selenicereus chrysocardium, not necessarily in that order.

Not pictured:
Agave americana (also United States)
Agave attenuata (foxtail agave)
Agave victoriae-reginae (also United States)
Astrophytum ornatum
Beloperone guttata (shrimp plant)
Chamaedorea elegans (parlor palm)
Echeveria spp. (some spp.)
Euphorbia pulcherrima (poinsettia)
Graptopetalum paraguayense (ghost plant)
Mammillaria spp. (some spp.)
Pinguicula spp. (butterworts) (some spp.)
Sedum rubrotinctum (jellybean plant)
Tradescantia pallida (purple heart, purple queen)
Yucca guatemalensis (spineless yucca; still called by its old name, Y. elephantipes, quite a bit) (also Central America)


lynn'sgarden said...

Nice specimen you have there of the biship's cap. How does one propagate such a plant? ponytail palm has a more punk rock look since I just trimmed all the tatty ends!

Can you post a photo of your shrimp plant? I love them!

Anonymous said...

Lovely unscarred Bishop's cap. It would be neat to have a vanilla. I saw them growing in Fiji where an expat American had planned to have a vanilla plantation, then passed away and they had gone to town taking over the native trees and climbing all over. All you need is a tree trunk and a nice warm room . . .

mr_subjunctive said...


Seeds, I suppose. I don't think I've ever seen anybody talking about it.

I don't have a shrimp plant, or any pictures of one: I think we only got them once at work (maybe twice) and either I never tried to take a picture, or I tried but never got a good one, I don't remember which.


Unfortunately, the bishop's cap has scarred a little since that picture was taken. It's also been knocked out of its pot four or five times; it's either exceptionally top-heavy or exceptionally unlucky.

I've never had a Vanilla orchid before; WCW encouraged us to bring them in, saying that they were pretty easy to grow and propagate, but they were also priced so high that neither I nor any of the customers ever wanted to buy one.

I don't know that I would have been able to keep one anyway; I might have a nice warm room, but I'm pretty sure I don't have a tree trunk.

The Fiji thing sounds wonderful, though.

our friend Ben said...

Great post, Mr. S.! I've been lusting after a vanilla plant for years but the price has always put me off as well. maybe it's time to finally bite the bullet!

CelticRose said...

According to Wikipedia and, Astrophytums (Bishop's cap) are propagated by seed.

However, one guy on CactiGuide had a grafted Astrophytum that he wanted to grow on it's own roots. He sliced the top off and rooted it, while leaving the bottom grafted part alone. The bottom produced a couple of offsets.

Peter said...

They've changed Yucca elephantipes to Yucca guatemalensis?!? Oh Noes!

I hate those stoopid botanists. No turkee for them.

Jacki said...

I'm glad you said Echeveria - lots of nice ones. I have to call them houseplants, as they don't grow outside in Zone 5 very well. Love your selections!

Hà Xuân said...

I just learned a few more names of plants from this post. Thanks.

mss @ Zanthan Gardens said...

I do love those golden barrel cactus. They are popular here in Austin (outside).

One has to be careful about purchasing them because there is a huge market for illegally harvested from the wilderness (stolen) cacti and succulents coming up from Mexico.

Anonymous said...

You left out Monstera...