Monday, 27 September 2010
Tonight I want to show you two drawings I did recently from the genus Crassula.
Crassula is a large genus of succulent plants containing many species, including the popular Jade Plant. They are native to many parts of the globe, but culitvated varieties are almost exclusively from the Eastern Cape of South Africa. The name Crassula is the diminutive of the Latin crassus which means thick or fat, referring to the fleshy nature of the genus as a whole.
The proper name of this first exotic looking plant (above) is Crassula capitella of the family, Crassulaceae. A couple of the common names for this plant are "Red Flames" or "Campfire Plant". As you can see, it has bright, lime green leaves with flaming reddish tips. As the leaves mature, the reddish colour increases -- depending on the amount of sunlight they get. If they are grown in the shade, the plant can remain almost entirely lime green.
I really enjoyed drawing this plant even though the design is quite repetitious. It just gave me such pleasure to watch my drawing go from lime green to the bright reddish colour.
Here is the same plant, Crassula capitella, but changed in appearance. I decided to play around with it by using my funny software. For some reason I really like this design. What do you think of it?
Next, I did a drawing of Crassula ovata. This species was first described in England in 1768 and given the species name of "ovata" meaning egg-shaped and referring to the shape of the leaves. This is probably the most commonly grown Crassula in South Africa.
Evidently, the Khoi and other African tribes ate the roots of this plant. They were grated and cooked after which they were eaten with thick milk. The leaves were also used medicinally -- usually boiled in milk and taken as a rememdy for diarrhoea or used to treat epilepsy, or as a purgative.
Interestingly, in the Far East, Germany and the U.S., this plant is traditionally grown in square, porcelain tubs with "lion feet" to bring good financial luck. This has given rise to common names such as: the Money Tree, Penny Plant, Dollar Plant and Tree of Happiness.
As you can see, I could not resist playing with colour again. I wondered what C. ovata would look like in blue! Using the solarization process, I found out.
Finally, before I leave the discussion about Crassula, I want to quote some information about these plants which I find fascinating. A lot of you may not be interested in all this botanical stuff, so just feel free to skip to the next section.
"Crassulas have a special way of reducing water loss from their leaves without limiting their ability to photosynthesise, known as Crassulacean Acid Metabolism or CAM. All plants need CO 2 (carbon dioxide) for photosynthesis. Most plants take in CO 2 during daylight hours through their stomata (pores in the leaves) and can't avoid losing water at the same time throught these open pores. In Crassula the stomata are closed during the day but open at night when the CO 2 taken in is stored in the form of organic crassulacean acids. During the day, these acids are broken down and the CO 2 released is re-used in the photosynthetic process. In this way they lose much less water yet can photosyntesise normally during the daylight hours. Furthermore, during extremely dry periods they won't even open their stomata at night, and will re-cycle the CO 2 within the cells. They won't be able to grow at all but the cells will be kept healthy - this is known as CAM-idling. In addition to being a CAM plant, and having succulent water-storing stems, leaves and swollen roots that give it the ability to survive droughts, this crassula can also survive being grazed, trodden on or knocked over, as it is able to root from any piece of stem, even a single leaf."
Now for some new cat photos!
I ordered a number of copies of the book this weekend so those of you who have been asking me to get a copy of it for you should be hearing from me soon. I have also noticed online that a few people have ordered copies as they said they were going to.
I am part of a group of people who are currently prayer fervently for a wee babe by the name of James. He was born Thursday night/Friday morning and was immediately put on a respirator. He has some malformed organs. We are especially asking Blessed Mother Teresa to intercede on his behalf and her sisters have joined us in praying. Please feel free to pray with us if you are so inclined.
May peace be with you all.