Dorstenia elata, or Congo Fig, is a perennial evergreen native to Brazil, where it is considered an endangered species. The glossy, dark green, lanceolate leaves will reach up to 10 inches (25 cm) long and 4.5 inches (11.4 cm) wide. Petioles are up to 6 inches (15 cm) long and overall plant height is around 16-18 inches (40-45 cm). This plant will grow in a wide variety of light conditions from very low to very high. They are hardy in the landscape in USDA zones 10 and 11.
Blooming: Dorstenia elata produce their weird flowers/fruit all year long in the greenhouse. The flowering structure is called a hypanthodium. Although the hypanthodium is not particularly showy, it does have a strange beauty about it. This structure is, in essence, an inflorescence and they can become fairly sizeable.
Culture: Dorstenia elata are very easy to grow. They grow in a wide variety of light intensities and soil conditions. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mixture consisting of 2 parts loam to 1 part peat moss to 1 part sand. The plants are grown under 50% shade all year long. Containers are watered and allowed to dry slightly before watering again. We fertilize these plants monthly with a balanced fertilizer diluted to ˝ the strength recommended on the label. During the winter months, water is somewhat restricted, but the nighttime temperatures are never allowed to fall below 55°F (13°C). They need very little re-potting and sometimes the stems get a little leggy and unattractive. We plant the stems a little deeper to counteract this problem. Unless you keep this plant dead headed it can become very weedy in the greenhouse situation.
Propagation: Dorstenia elata is propagated from seed.
Dorstenia elata was featured as Plant of the Week June 16-22, 2006.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.