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Andreas Wistuba

Squamellaria (was Hydnophytum) kajewskii - cultivated plant

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The Hydnophytum kajewskii seedlings from the Solomon Island seeds import are doing very nicely mounted on Cork bark. They were sown early in 2014 and are starting to grow more and more asymmetrically. I hope that they will look a bit more "boat-shaped" sooner or later.

Many of my Hydnophytinae grow lots of roots on their caudex when young. I guess that's because I fertilize them with watering given from above and because of frequent misting. Older plants often lose these roots and grow more typical.

 

 

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Andreas:

 

Congratulations on a beautifully-grown set of plants. We were not particularly fortunate with our two seed imports from this source last year, but did finally end up with three H. kajewskii that arrived about the same time as yours did (mid-March).

 

I found that growing them as windowsill plants produced the usual elongated caudex that one normally sees with this group when they develop under low light conditions. Unlike many seedling hydnophytines, they began branching vigorously early on. Two plants that were moved to a warm greenhouse and set up as hanging plants in very bright light changed their caudex shape to a more globular form several months after transfer while a plant left on windowsill culture, while extremely vigorous, is elongated and with very large leaves. Ours have still not developed holes in the caudex yet, but they do have the distinctive row of raised areas showing where the entrance holes will open over the next weeks or months. 

 

I have attached a photo of the best-looking of the three plants we have here in the US. This one was the first to be moved to the greenhouse as a trial last fall. The second was moved early this year. After doing nothing for a month or so, it began to rapidly change its caudex form and to sprout numerous main stems and leaf out along the branches.  Unlike your mounted specimen, this plant has a completely globular caudex at this stage. Perhaps as compensation for the degree of difficulty in getting viable material here, based on this very small sample size I have found this species to be easily the fastest-growing Hydnophytum that I have grown from seed. Note to all; because of their chartaceous leaves, I found that they are extremely vulnerable to spider mite infestations if kept dry, but are otherwise easy under tropical conditions.

 

For reference, this plant is in a 15 cm basket, so total diameter of the canopy is ~25 cm. Caudex, not visible, ~3.5 cm with no aerial roots yet. At this stage, the combination of globular gray caudex and dense canopy remind me enormously of the high elevation desert roses (Adenium arabicum) from Jabal Shada, Saudi Arabia when they are in leaf.

 

I would like to take the opportunity to thank Derrick Rowe for having spent so much of his time, effort and personal treasure to locate this species and to develop a commercial source for seed from these unique insular hydnophytines. Likewise, Frank Omilian was instrumental in actually getting the deal done and seed into my hands. Like you, this included our third attempt in three years to establish these species in cultivation, so I'm glad a number of plants appear to be well-established now in both Europe and the U.S. Thanks also to Zhon Bosco's considerable patience and efforts to source viable seed, surmount various logistical challenges, and get it into grower's hands around the world.

 

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Cheers,

 

J

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It is fantastic to see such weird plants in cultivation. I am not sure what my field observations imply, but I have yet to see any hydnophytinae showing any where near the amount of aerial root growth shown on these juvenile tubers. However, your cultivation methods obviously work and these species are still far too rare in cultivation for possibly dangerous cultivation experiments.  A little idle speculation, if some hydnophytums are split into one (or more) new genera, I suspect guppyanum and kajewskii to be probable contenders. 

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Jeff:

 

Thank you. Yes, I prefer to use New Zealand AAA long-fiber sphagnum for both germination and permanent basket cultivation in California. This medium is really only feasible over the long-term if you have excellent water quality. Even so, I do repot and replace the sphagnum every two or three years at most due to gradual breakdown of the moss from fertilizer salts. I also have a few plants in mix of equal parts coconut husk chips (not coir fiber), shredded treefern fiber and LECA. This blend will last for a very long time before breaking down, and is a much better choice for growers with mediocre water quality.

 

J

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Greetings.

 

These plants continue to grow very fast, as can be seen in the images below. The larger of the two (upper image), which is the plant shown in the May photo, is now well over 50 cm across and looks like it will outgrow its 15 cm basket by spring.

 

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The caudex shape on the two plants varies somewhat. Unlike Andreas' plant still no external apertures evident, but they are clearly developing along the sides of both caudexes. I have just begun to hand-pollinate the plant in the lower image.

 

J

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