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Brighamia rockii

Brighamia rockii is one of the most unusual of Hawaiian plants.  It has been called "Cabbage on a Stick", due to its rosette of fleshy leaves atop a thick, succulent stem.  This attractive, palm-shaped plant was once plentiful on some of the Hawaiian islands, but the introduction of goats and other species has dwindled the population down to a few dozen plants that hang from steep cliffs.  It is now critically endangered and very close to extinction.  Despite being rare in cultivation, it happens to be easy to grow!

Brighamia rockii

Brighamia rockii is an evergreen plant in the Campanula family that usually grows a single stem, although it sometimes forms multiple stems.  It typically grows 3 to 6 feet tall, but it may eventually get 15 feet tall!  Its succulent stem resembles an upside-down baseball bat.  The caudiciform stem functions as a water supply for the plant, enabling it to survive periods of drought.  When given adequate water, it has an attractive tuft of spoon-shaped leaves that get 6 to 9 inches long.  The plant flowers in autumn, with clusters of attractive white blooms.  Each trumpet-shaped bloom is 4 inches long and has a sweet fragrance.  Non-native animals and plants on Hawaii eliminated all Brighamia plants except the ones growing on inaccessible sea cliffs.

Brighamia rockii

The plant grows in tropical and subtropical conditions, preferring temperatures between 50 and 85 or 90 degrees F.  It can tolerate cooler temperatures if kept relatively dry, but i don't think it can survive more than a degree or two of frost.  Despite its succulent nature, it appreciates regular watering, as well as ample fertilizer.  Grow it in a well-draining soil mix that is finely-grained, as opposed to a rocky mix.  It grows well in part- to full-sun.  Some protection from strong afternoon sun might be needed in hot conditions.  Over about 40% humidity is best.

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Photos #1 & 2 courtesy of David Eickhoff, #3 by Wiliwili Hawaiian plants

 

 

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Turquoise Puya

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