Arum italicum (light cigaro): the plant that drives away evil spirits

n botany it is known by the name Arum Italicum, although this plant is commonly called wild calla or gigaro. We are talking about a poisonous herbaceous plant that is not rarely used as an ornament both in the garden and in pots. Let’s see together everything there is to know about this particular plant.

Arum Italicum belongs to the Araceae family and is a rustic plant of European origin; it spreads very much in the wild in uncultivated places, but also on the side of the road or in vegetable gardens. Being a perennial plant, also the Gigaro, just like the calla, has a robust and rhizomatous root that is light brown in color.
This plant has a development in height that on average is around 40 cm and with the passage of time it manifests itself with large and dense bushes.
The leaves arise from a leathery petiole which usually develops with a length of 20 cm; they are shiny and very intense green in color and often show white spots. It is during the autumn season that the leaves are born from the tuber, while in the summer they dry out completely. A small peculiarity concerns the size of the leaves: the innermost ones are always longer than the external ones.
The lamina of the leaves is troubled and has wavy and smooth margins. During the spring season, shapely stems appear among the leaves of this plant; the stems have a green-white spathe inflorescence that ends with a yellow apex. From here small white flowers are born. Arum Italicum blooms during the spring season.
The fertilized flowers united in terminal spikes give rise to the fruits of this plant, which are nothing but small berries with a shiny and spherical shape. Initially the berries are green in color, and then turn into beautiful orange – red berries.
Be careful, because the berries of this plant are poisonous.

Cultivation

From the point of view of exposure, Arum Italicum prefers shady or at most semi-shaded environments.

Gigaro is not a plant that can stand the cold and low temperatures. To cultivate this plant it is good to use a soft, drained soil rich in organic substances.

Watering this plant is not particularly tiring: Arum Italicum, in fact, is a plant that is satisfied with rain and therefore should not be watered frequently.

The only precaution to have from this point of view is during the warm seasons, especially in periods when it rains little. For fertilization, the advice is to administer a fertilizer for flowering plants in liquid form or a slow-release granular fertilizer during the spring season.

Diseases and treatments

Being a rustic and wild plant, Arum Italicum is not afraid of many parasites. On the contrary, it is very subject to water stagnation which, in the long run, can cause the roots to rot. In any case, there are two pests to keep under control: the cottony cochineal and the spider mite. To eliminate these two parasites, the advice is to use a cotton swab with alcohol and water; in the most serious cases, however, it is advisable to purchase a natural pesticide.

Curiosity

The scientific name Arum derives from the Greek Aron which means heat. The choice of the name is not accidental: this plant, in fact, when it is in full bloom it can emit heat. The word Italicum, on the other hand, derives from the locality of its first findings.

Like many plants, Arum Italicum also has a history of symbolism and superstition. In Abruzzo, for example, tradition states that the Gigaro is able to keep evil spirits away, to protect newborn children and to give love to the most unfortunate.

In ancient times, the starch extracted from its roots was used to starch the tissues. The rhizome of this plant was also used in medicine for its beneficial properties, in particular for its purgative and expectorant properties. Remember that it is a poisonous plant: ingesting the berries can be very dangerous, especially in children.

Kalanchoe tetraphylla: the plant of good wishes and a new beginning

Kalankoe Tetraphylla, commonly known by the name Calancola, is an ornamental succulent plant with an incredible ornamental effect. It is an indoor plant that boasts colorful and colorful flowers, which make it very decorative indeed. Let’s see together everything there is to know about this plant.

The Calancola belongs to the Crossulaceae family, is of exotic origin and there are 120 different species. This succulent was introduced into the trade at the beginning of the twentieth century and has been the subject of incredible diffusion ever since. Kalankoe Tetraphylla has African origins and in particular comes from Madagascar.

This plant generally has a height of 40 cm and has large, fleshy leaves with a rounded appearance; the leaves meet in a central rosette with a compact shape. One of the most popular features of this plant is the color of the leaves, which are covered with a layer of bloom and are green with the edges tending to purple.

During the flowering period erect stems emerge from the center of the rosette, from which small flowers have life; the latter, tubular in shape, can have different colors: from pink to white, also passing through yellow, orange or red. Calancola blooms in winter and its flowers are similar to those of Echeveria.

Cultivation

As for exposure, Kalankoe Tetraphylla loves bright environments but not exposed to the sun’s rays. In any case, it is good to leave this plant in a place with a temperature not lower than 15 ° C. Calancola loves drained soils, rich in organic substances and adequately soft.

As mentioned, the Calancola blooms in winter. During the winter months it is advisable not to water it, while from the vegetative restart until the autumn season, watering must be occasional: the advice is to water it when the soil is completely dry.

For fertilization it is important to use a specific fertilizer for succulent plants; the advice is to fertilize once every 4 weeks, mixing the fertilizer with water and following the recommended doses on the package. Alternatively, you can use a slow-release granular fertilizer every 60/90 days to be dispensed at the base of the head.

Diseases and treatments in brief

Like most succulents, the Calancola also fears attack by parasites. The main dangers for this plant are:

  • Botrytis fungus, which manifests itself with the presence of necrotic areas and attacks the leaves by covering them with mold.
  • Phytophthora fungus, which causes leaves and stems to wilt and risks rotting the plant.
  • Puccinia fungus, a parasite that develops in conditions of extreme humidity and that manifests itself on the leaves, which are covered with light and soft spots.
  • Mealy cochineal, a parasite that generally proliferates in the lower part of the leaves.

In short, Kalankoe Tetraphylla suffers greatly from humidity, excesses and stagnation of water. To combat the parasites described so far, there are many natural pesticides on the market, completely harmless for the plant and very effective against diseases.

As for plant care, as mentioned, it is very important not to overdo it with water. It is also advisable to dust the leaves periodically using a damp cloth and favoring transpiration. Also remember to always remove dried leaves and flowers.

Curiosity

Not many know this, but Kalankoe Tetraphylla has an interesting symbolic meaning. In fact, many are often used to give a gift to a loved one when they go to live in a new home; this plant is in fact considered a good omen for a new beginning. Being a succulent plant it does not need special care and attention and for this very reason it is very often chosen as a gift to give to people who do not have much time to devote to the green thumb. With its bright and special colors it will be able to give a touch of class to your home!

Color the terrace or garden with pale tradescantia

If you have just purchased a plant that can withstand whatever adversity it is subjected to, then it is probably a plant belonging to the Tradescantia genus, which includes as many as seventy-five types of plants.

The Tradescantia owes its name to John Tradescant the Younger, a Dutch Huguenot naturalist who had the role of gardener in the royal court of Charles I of England. After going to the English colony in America called Virginia, he was able to export numerous plants and crops to Europe, including the Tradescantia, which was very successful not only for its beauty, but also for its high resistance to bad weather, so much so that it took the name of “herb of misery”, precisely because of the few care it needed, even if an eye towards her was never bad. One of the many varieties of this plant is the pallida, coming from Mexico and, to date, it is possible to find it in Southern Italy, although the entire family of plants is native to North America, Central America and the northernmost part of South America. .

The pale Tradescantia has a very particular appearance and varies according to the types, such as the “Purple Heart”, with leaves of a very dark shade of purple and bright pink flowers or the “Variegated Purple Heart”, with streaked purple leaves and lilac flowers, in addition to “Ocampo White”, with white flowers and leaves of the same color as those of grapes.

Cultivation methods

First of all, it is good to create a soil suitable for Tradescantia, that is, one in which the water is able to drain well during watering. A mix of peat, coarse sand and normal garden soil is excellent; the whole is preferable to be placed in terracotta pots, given the fact that they are particularly known for their porosity.

After creating the growing base, it is good to know how to water the pale Tradescantia: The ideal would be to give it more water in the warmer seasons, while its use in autumn and winter should be strictly limited, simply by ensuring that the soil remains a little wet.

As for the seasons, it is good that the plant always remains well lit, but must remain away from direct sunlight, which is not tolerated, as well as cold air, which could damage it in winter. Better to grow Tradescantia pallida in areas where the temperature does not drop below 10 ° Celsius.

Once the plant has been cultivated properly, then you can be ready to make it reproduce by using cuttings, ie fragments of the plant itself adequately cut in the summer months and deprived of leaves in the lower part; only at this point can they be planted in groups of three in a pot with moist soil. Once you have obtained your colorful bushes, it is also good to think about reinforcing them and making them even more luxuriant with adequate summer fertilization. In particular, it is necessary to use a very rich fertilizer, in which magnesium, copper, iron, boron and zinc are present.

Diseases and treatments

The resistance of this plant also concerns diseases, since it is rarely scratched by parasites such as cochineal, but its roots can be affected by fungal growths that can damage it if they are watered excessively, so it is good not to overdo it.

If you notice leaves becoming small, deformed and discolored, then it is very likely that your Tradescantia needs more light exposure, while if there are whitish animals it is likely that you are in the presence of lice; with these or with cochineal it is always good to use specific pesticides.

That said, it is definitely a great plant for both indoors and outdoors even if you don’t have too much time to take care of it.

Myths, legends and cultivation of the onopordum Illyricum

The onopordo Maggiore has a very similar appearance to the Cardo, with large and robust leaves at the base in rosette; it is characterized by an erect scape covered with a white fluff. The flowers arrive during the summer season and are pink in color. The fruit of this plant is a cypsela that has furrows that develop transversely and has a bristly pappus. This plant is widespread above all on the northern side of the Mediterranean basin, especially in Portugal, Lebanon, Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily. Over time, Onopordum Illyricum was also introduced in California and Australia. It generally grows on roadsides and in uncultivated land.

Cultivation

The first thing to consider for the cultivation of this plant is the fact that pollination takes place by means of insects; we are therefore faced with entomogamous pollination. For cultivation, the advice is to prepare a seedbed with the arrival of spring and to wait to transplant the young plants until they are the right size. Where the plant grows spontaneously, it does not need great care, unless the foresight is to eliminate the dry parts from time to time. Generally speaking, the plants of spontaneous alimurgic species do not need particular care: it is the natural mother who does everything necessary to make them grow strong and vigorous.

Of the Onopordum Illyricum, the head of the leaves at the base and the unripe inflorescence are collected above all. To collect the head it is good to have a small hoe.

Diseases and treatments

Being a wild plant, the Onopordo Maggiore is not particularly prone to pests and diseases. It is in fact a very resistant species which, as mentioned, does not require particular attention.

Curiosity

In ancient times, this plant was considered a valid test for weddings. The girls of Milo, the locality of Etna, used the inflorescences of the Onopordo Maggiore to understand if their wedding was imminent or not. In particular, this custom was typical of the day of St. John: the unmarried girls went to collect the plant, cut off an inflorescence (better if not ripe) and buried it in a place known only to them. The next day they dug up the plant, crushed it and examined the color of the flowers: if the flowers were colored, then the wedding was near; if, on the contrary, the flowers were white, then the wedding day was still far away. Another little curiosity concerns its names. This plant is in fact also known by the name Trummazzi, or trumpets. This name depends on the fact that when the inflorescences and flowers dry they take on an appearance very similar to trumpets. Onopordum Illyricum can also be called Donkey Thistle, a name that derives from its alleged carminative effects which, according to the ancients, it had on donkeys.

Echinops Ritro: the globe thisle

Echinops Ritro, known as globe thistle, is a perennial plant, which is characterized by the spherical shape of its inflorescences, which recall the typical appearance of a hedgehog. The name of this extraordinary plant comes from the Greek language Echinos, which means precisely porcupine, due to its roundish features and its thin inflorescences, like thorns. Echinops Ritro is a plant that can easily be found in several countries of southern Europe and western Asia. In Italy it is widespread throughout the territory, from north to south, including the areas of the western Alps. The plant belongs to the Asterceae family, can reach a maximum height of about 80 cm, the stem is long and embellished with rare and alternate leaves with a dentate margin, the upper part is dark green and has a smooth consistency. front of white color has a rough layer. Echinops Ritro flowers, called flower heads, are small and have a delightful metallic blue hue.

Cultivation

Echinops Ritro is a decidedly rustic plant, which does not provide a sophisticated cultivation methodology, grows in any type of soil, in arid and stony places and even in uncultivated areas. It can also grow in considerable heights, up to 1,500 m.s.l.m. it resists well at temperatures that drop just below zero degrees. The only precaution to use when planting an Echinops Ritro is to implant it in a well exposed to the sun and very deep, its roots are indeed very long. It is also a plant suitable for those who do not have the so-called green thumb, since Echinops Ritro does not require much water or recurring fertilizations, an organic is sufficient during sowing. The planting must be performed in March or October, while the arrival of autumn will need to cut the stem at the base, to allow the plant to make an excellent vegetative rest.

Diseases and cures

Being a very rustic plant, it is not subject to any kind of particular diseases, the only problems that could be found, are the attacks carried out by fungi, in particular the powdery mildew. This fungus develops due to high humidity, causing yellowing of the leaves and the appearance of black spots. Once hit, the plant must be washed thoroughly with abundant water and then treated with homemade baking preparations of bicarbonate or vinegar.

Curiosity

Echinops Ritro is a very old plant, its origins probably date back to around 1500, when it was used to decorate and decorate public and private gardens. The plant was given an important medicinal capacity, it was dissolved in warm water and taken to fight inflammation. Many women in the past drank Echinops Ritro infusions to increase breast milk immediately after the birth of children.

Russelia equisetiformis: the firecracker plant

Let’s go to the discovery of Russellia equisetiformis, a really “explosive” plant. In fact, in fact Russellia is known mainly with its three nicknames which have a common denominator: firecracker plant, coral plant and fountain plant. What is the characteristic that unites them? All the names, particularly colored, are due to the typical cascade of red flowers for which the plant is known.
The Russelia is in fact an incredible plant, whose copious bloom has always fascinated those who came in contact with it. Native to the tropical regions of the American continent, especially the Mexican and Cuban forests, in the genus Russelia one finds several perennials, characterized by long and thin stems that fall back and can grow up to three meters. The leaves are “squamous”: they are in fact narrow and very small, so much so that the fish scales are brought to mind.
The flowers bloom since the end of winter and last almost until autumn. They are tubular, collected in isolated groups and show shades that can vary from pink to red-orange.

Cultivation and placement

The Russelia is an easy growing plant that does not require excessive or particular attention, but is sensitive to cold. If it is kept outdoors, during the winter, it will be transported to a sheltered place to avoid it being exposed to temperatures below 10 ° C.
It is a “solar” plant, it loves direct sunlight, except in the most torrid days of the summer, and loves the air, so it is good to make sure it is always in good ventilation.
This plant should be watered regularly during the warmer months having the foresight to wait until the soil is dry on the surface before proceeding with the next watering. As with many tropical species, during the winter, the plant requires very little watering.
The Russelia plant should be fertilized every two weeks or so, adding a little fertilizer to the water. Be careful not to overdo it: it is always advisable to reduce the doses indicated on the package which tend to be excessive.
To obtain plants that give copious bloom, particularly important for the ornamental ability of Russelia, it is better to proceed to pruning towards the end of the winter season by cutting the stems by about a third and promptly eliminating all the dry or damaged parts in order not to favor the environment for the arrival of parasitic diseases. At the end of the winter the Russelia will be repotted only in case the pot has become too small.
Given the “hanging” aspect, the Russelia must be cultivated in hanging vases or on the railings of the balconies, from which will be exposed unusual and beautiful flowers during the hottest time of the year.

Diseases and remedies

The Russelia is a very resistant plant: it is in fact not subject to diseases, even if they are not unusual infestations by mites and aphids. How to identify them? If you notice small, light-colored, moving insects, you will certainly find them in the presence of aphids, also commonly known as lice. To leave no room for doubt, just look at them with a magnifying glass and compare them with a photo: their shape makes them unmistakable. To avoid possible damaging water stagnations, create the ideal environment by mixing in equal parts a good soil, peat and coarse sand in order to promote water drainage.