Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The mixed emotions of wrongly labelled plants.

You have been after that elusive plant for ages and just when you think you are never going to find it, it turns ups somewhere totally unexpected. What a great feeling as you pay, load it into your car and take it back to your garden. That elated feeling comes back every time you look at it, until as it grows you start wondering if it is actually the plant the label says.  It doesn't look quite right and after a while something finally confirms it is not that long sort after plant. You've been sold a pup.

Sold as aloe firebird, hoping it is not just a skinny aloe lizard lips
The elation turns to frustration when you realise you are going to have to re-start the search and almost as bad, you have another unidentified plant. In time the mystery plant stops being something you look at with annoyance and starts becoming something of interest in it's own right.  While not the plant you wanted it is still a good one; colour, shape and growing into something more special every day.  Frustration turns to feeling challenged to find the identity and you now have two searches on your hand.

Sold as aloe greatheadii
Out come the books, maybe you post a picture on a plant forum or in your blog, hoping someone can supply a name.  The longer the search goes on the more determined you are to solve the mystery.  It looks a bit like .... but the leaves are too narrow.  The spines remind you of ..... but the colour is totally wrong.  Please don't be an unnamed hybrid. Then a flower spike slowly appears, the best chance to get that elusive ID, or at least rule out some of the possibles. Challenged turns to impatience: how long does it take for a flower stalk to grow?

Flower identified plant as aloe prinslooi 
Finally it opens and the flower is very distinct, back to the books and internet.  Could it be ... the flower looks correct, the shape is correct.  Impatience turns to excitement.  You may be onto a winner, everything seems to fit and the other options have something that rule them out.  You post a picture to friends as a double check and when they agree. Excitement turns to joy at finally having that ID.

Now if only you can find that plant you were after in the first place.


  1. Happens to me to. Took me three tries to get a real Agave guiengola. I try to convince myself that is part of the fun.

  2. Forgot to add, I think you are better off with prinslooi: what a beautiful flower! Aloe greatheadii isn't as pretty as that.

  3. I know what you are talking about! It can be sooo frustrating!

  4. BH: It is bad enough when it happens once, to have it happen three times looking for one plant must have driven you mad.