Friday, September 2, 2011

Name That Mutant!

The husband and I went to see the rabbits on Tuesday. Mostly the trip was disappointing -- I really only saw a handful of plants I was at all interested in buying, and couldn't afford the one below, which is the one I wanted the most.

I know it doesn't look like much. It's mostly interesting because of who it is, not what it looks like. Can you guess the species? I'll give you one hint: it's the subject of one of the plant profiles. (Not much of a hint, I realize, since there are now 100 plant profiles as of a few days ago. But that's all you get.)






The answer: it's Schefflera actinophylla 'Renegade.'

This is the first one I've seen in person. From the (small, low-resolution) pictures I saw when I was working on the S. actinophylla profile, I couldn't figure out how 'Renegade' worked: the leaves appeared to stick out of the main stem directly, instead of being multiple leaflets on a long petiole, the way the species usually works.

(A normally-shaped but poorly-photographed S. actinophylla leaf.)

Having now gotten a close look at 'Renegade,' I understand a bit better. The plant still has petioles, they're just . . . um . . . well, I thought of phocomelia.

The petioles ("Petioles" might not be the right word for it, but I am confused about the difference between "petiole," "petiolule," "pinna," "rachis," and "rachilla," and was unable to figure out which was which on my own. So I'm just going to call them all "petioles" until somebody can explain to me what the correct terminology would be, at which point I'll change it. Is there a botanist in the house?) are extremely short, and abnormally thick, but produce the same number of leaflets. Instead of pointing in every direction, the leaflets wind up all pointing away from the main stem. I also noticed when I got home and was looking at these pictures that 'Renegade' appears to do something I've never seen on any other Schefflera: it has a third layer of petioles, in spots.

The regular "petiole" is considerably shortened, and indicated by the pink line. Then there are the "petioles" which connect to the individual leaflets, as in the normal plant (orange). Except that even the petioles' petioles have petioles, on the far left and far right (yellow). This is cool, but more or less impossible to describe without a visual aid.

So I find myself both attracted and repulsed by 'Renegade.' On one hand, it has going for it that it'd make a much tidier plant: it won't take up as much floor space as one of the more standard varieties, and the overall shape of the plant is a bit more defined. On the other hand, it's kind of a monster and will probably scar the fragile psyches of children with its grotesque deformities. So.

What does everybody else think?


Long Haired Lady Rider said...


Peter said...

No, I'm not offended by it.

Liza said...


Anna dlC, Toronto said...

Kind of looks like a cross between a rubber plant and ardisia eliptica. Personally, I'd pick the ardisia over this one but I wouldn't turn it away if someone tried to give me one.

Kenneth Moore said...

It looks friendly, to me! It says "Hi there, how are you doing? Would you like a cup of coffee?"

Tom said...

Pinna/Pinnae are the leaflets on ferns, petiolule is the "petiole" that connects a leaflet to the rachis, which is what the petiole becomes once the leaflets start, rachilla is what the petiolule becomes when it enters the leaflet (the main vein within the leaflet). I believe rachis is also the main stalk on a grass but I could be mistaken.

It's been a few years since my plant physiology class so I could have these terms a bit mixed up but i'm 99% sure they're right.

WandaJean said...

The leaves looked familiar to me, but without the pattern/leaf arrangement it didn't register in my brain. It is kinda creepy when you consider the science, but it's a friendly looking monster.

Does it's monsterness include more than just the odd leaf distribution, or will it eat your house in a few months? Will we see headlines on national news about: PLANT BLOGGER NEIGHBORHOOD DESIMATED BY MUTANT PLANT details at 8:00.

mr_subjunctive said...


So what would the things on 'Renegade' be called, properly?


Well, it's a Schefflera, so it probably does grow kinda fast, but it'd probably be too skinny to eat a whole house. With a form like that, it pretty much can't do anything except grow straight up.

And it didn't make it to my house. Not enough money.

Tom said...

I'm gonna go with...a nightmare. But really I think the petiole is what it'd be until it divides at which point they'd all be petiolules (the orange lines) and the yellow ones might be rachis? It's hard to tell... Or they might just all be petiolules, I'm not entirely sure.

phantom_tiger said...

I actually guessed schefflera, but then I couldn't figure out why I thought that. I once killed one (not on purpose). We don't get along.

What is the most expensive indoor plant you've ever seen? My budget limit is fairly low. I like to start them small and build them up. But I recently saw a plant arrangement that I covet and should not buy.

mr_subjunctive said...


I don't know it it's the most expensive, but the place where I used to work had a Cycas revoluta that was supposedly $200. (I think we actually let someone have it for less than that.) And we often had tall Ficus benjaminas in the $150-200 range.

Anonymous said...

I actually like that a lot more than I like most Schefflera, and you don't even notice the madness inside unless you get close I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

I've now seen 'Renegade' in person and it's a really neat plant. I've also come across and got my own 'Alpine' which seems to be very similar to 'Renegade' just not as extreme, keeping a slim figure but with 4-6" petioles (more similar to 'Renegade' at the tip getting longer towards the bottom). Both seem to be very nice plants though.

CrowKing said...

I have got one that is very similar to this one. My great grandfather bought it in the 60's of 70's and he is still alive. We named it Mac after my great grandfather and it is sort of part of the family. They do get huge but don't be afraid to cut it back. Ours took over the living room growing to the ceiling and probably 6 feet around. We cut it down to like two feet high and 10 years later he is doing just fine.