Friday, April 29, 2011

List: Houseplants Which Resemble Piles of Sticks

What? Some of them do.

Agave geminiflora.

Bryophyllum tubiflorum.

Cissus quadrangularis.

Codiaeum variegatum 'Picasso's Paintbrush.'

Euphorbia tirucalli.

Gasteria x pseudonigricans?

Hatiora salicornioides.

Peperomia ferreyrae.

Rhipsalis teres var. heteroclada. (ID is tentative; Rhipsalis species are difficult to tell apart.)

Sansevieria cylindrica.

But which ones are pleasant to grow?

Well, I've grown seven of the ten (haven't tried Agave geminiflora, Bryophyllum tubiflorum, or Codiaeum variegatum 'Picasso's Paintbrush'), and don't have too many complaints about most of them, but if I must choose three to recommend:

Euphorbia tirucalli, whatever faults it may have as a poisonous, somewhat shapeless monster that wants to blind people and burn their skin off, is remarkably easy to grow, even under terrible indoor conditions, and mine has certainly proven its mettle. (I'll have had it ten years in October, which sort of doesn't seem like it could possibly be real. And yet.) And however much it might want to wound and disfigure, if you just leave it alone, that's not going to be a problem.

Hatiora salicornioides is another long acquaintance of mine, with whom I've had mostly positive experiences, and it's even safe to have around. Rhipsalis teres is pretty much exactly the same way, though I haven't known it as long.

It's also hard to find much fault with Sansevieria cylindrica, unless you like plants that will grow from time to time. (S. cylindrica does grow, just very slowly, has been my experience. This partly reflects the care it's received, though.)

The anti-recommend is Codiaeum variegatum 'Picasso's Paintbrush.' I may not have grown it specifically, but I've grown crotons before, and don't consider them worth the spider mites they bring with them.

Not pictured (It's impossible to make a comprehensive list, because there's no way to quantify "resemble," "piles," or "of sticks," but here are some others I considered.):
  • Agave victoriae-reginae. Pretty much any Agave variety with non-floppy leaves, really.
  • Aloe 'Grassy Lassie' in particular, but also a fair number of other Aloes.
  • Araucaria bidwillii
  • Bowiea volubilis (reader suggestion)
  • Brassavola spp. (reader suggestion)
  • Ceropegia stapeliiformis (reader suggestion)
  • Chiloschista lunifera and C. parishii (reader suggestion)
  • Crassula muscosa, a little bit.
  • Cynanchum marnierianum (reader suggestion)
  • Dracaena marginata, at last in silhouette.
  • Euphorbia lactea, particularly large specimens.
  • Euphorbia milii cvv., particularly older plants that have lost their lower leaves.
  • Euphorbia platyclada (reader suggestion)
  • Hoya linearis (reader suggestion)
  • Hoya retusa (reader suggestion)
  • Hylocereus sp.
  • Leuchtenbergia principis, in the same way as Agaves.
  • Pedilanthus tithymaloides, especially older plants that have lost a lot of lower leaves.
  • Rhipsalis spp. are basically made for this list, or maybe vice-versa; some of the more commonly-available ones are R. baccifera and R. ewaldiana.
  • Rhytidocaulon ciliatum (reader suggestion)
  • Sansevieria hargesiana, and several other Sansevierias.
  • Stapelia gigantea, slightly.


Aralia said...

Another interesting post! I would add Hoya retusa and H. linearis to the list.

Kenneth Moore said...

Alternanthera dentata that has been too frequently unwatered and has spider mites often ends up resembling a pile of sticks.

Anonymous said...

If you don't mind, I would like to add the leafless orchid - Chilochista spp. to your list:
Chilochista parishii or lunifera. Their roots do look like sticks when grown mounted.

Sigonee said...

How about rhytidocaulon ciliatum? Not only does it look like a pile of sticks, but dead ones at that!

nycguy said...

if you want to include orchids, just about any brassavola looks like a bunch of sticks and has pretty, often fragrant, flowers to boot.

Thomas said...

I might add Bowiea volubilis and Euphorbia platyclada (which is usually flowering as well).

Pat said...

The ultimate has to be here:

Nick said...

The champions in this category have to be Euphorbia platyclada, Cynanchum marnierianum which are brown colored and have no obvious leaves... The other one would be Ceropegia stapeliiformis which as well as looking very dead, also looks like it's escaped from a Harry Potter book.

Brigitte Rieser said...

Presumably Senecio articulata fits your bill of sticks as well:

Easy going, develops runners, but not nasty ones.