Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Baby Toes

Any time the weather is gray, rainy or cool outside, a stroll through the McMillan Greenhouse at UNC Charlotte makes me forget all about it.  Inside the eight rooms, air is heavy with oxygen and the scent of growing and composting greenery;  it's heaven as far as I'm concerned.

The succulent room has tables and shelves full of all sorts of amazing and unusual plants from all over the world.  Here's an interesting for instance from the deserts of Namibia  -- baby toes.

Baby toes (Fenestraria rhopalophylla) is also known as window plant because of the clear, liquid-filled tips of  the leaves.  In the wild these leaves grow mostly underneath the sand where they are able to avoid the worst of the intense light and heat of the desert sun.  The tips of the leaves peek out from the sand just a bit which allows sun to enter the windows, filling the interior of the leaves with light so photosynthesis can still take place.

Nice strategy, baby toes.


Read more about this plant and many others in the book by Larry Mellichamp and Paula Gross, Bizarre Botanicals  Also, visit the McMillan Greenhouse where most of the plants in the book live.