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Classification, origin and description
Common name: Crypanto
Etymology: the name derives from the Greek kryptos, hidden, and anthos, flower, due to the characteristic common to most species of presenting sessile flowers, which remain hidden in the center of the plant.
Genre description: includes more than 20 species of small evergreen, herbaceous plants, mostly epiphytes (or in any case they grow on a very thin layer of soil), acauli (without stem) that have the classic arrangement of rosette leaves, often flattened, but often without the central "vase" typical of many bromeliads. They are species that cover or form suckers very easily. They are cultivated for the beauty of the leaves that take on colors that can range from white to green-brown, to intense red, to ocher and require very bright environments to be able to keep them unchanged. The whitish flowers are small and insignificant.
Hybrid Cryptanthus (Berlin Botanical Garden) (photo website)
Species and varieties
Cryptanthus acaulis: species of small size (10 cm) with slightly wavy, thorny leaves, with the lower page covered with silver scales. It easily produces new shoots, which however are very delicate and come off very easily. The leaves are classically arranged in a rosette, without a central vase. Among the best known varieties: "Argenteus", with silvery flakes that also cover the upper page, and "Rubra", with light green leaves with purple shades.
Cryptanthus x "Apple Blossom": hybrid of horticultural origin with cream-white leaves with bright green edges and spots.
Cryptanthus beuckery: this species is characterized by a very enlarged rosette made up of leaves, in the shape of a spoon, with the upper page green streaked with pink and marbled with white and the lower one covered with white-gray scales. The margins appear wavy and thorny. The plant does not exceed 15 cm. in height.
Cryptanthus bivittatus: presents thin leaves, with wavy and thorny margins, arranged in a rosette, very flattened, even if they often become everted, bending furiously. They are olive-green in color with two lighter longitudinal stripes. This species also produces delicate shoots both at the base of the leaves and at the center of the rosette. It reaches 7-8 cm in height. The best known variety is the "Roseo-pictus" in which the leaves are reddish-green in color and the two longitudinal strips of cream-white with pink shades
Cryptanthus bromelioides: species with an erect habit that reaches 30-35 cm. The bronzed, wavy and full-margin leaves form the classic rosette which, however, in this species can become briefly caulescent. The variety on the market is the "Tricolor", it has more expanded habit than the typical species and light green leaves streaked with yellow, pink, white, cream. Outside the greenhouse, the pink color tends to disappear. This species wants more abundant watering than other species and greater environmental humidity. The pots should be kept as small as possible.
Cryptanthus fosterianus: this species forms rosettes that reach 50 cm in diameter. The leaves, succulent, wavy, with toothed margins, are coppery green with white-greyish and ocher transverse streaks. It blooms easily and emits lateral suckers that extend in stolons with a new apical rosette, before the one that has bloomed dies. These shoots will have to be repotted to replace the mother plant which will begin to perish. It is often confused with C. zonatus variety zebrinus, which is very similar, but smaller in size.
Cryptanthus lacerdae: the leaves of this species have thick-toothed silvery-white margins. The foil is dark green with whitish streaks, on the upper page and covered with whitish scales on the lower one.
Cryptanthus zonatus: this species reaches 10 cm in height, while the leaves reach a length of 20-30 cm. They are light green in color and, on the upper page, have white transverse stripes. The variety "Fuscus" has red-brown leaves.
Environmental needs and substrate
Temperature: the minimum winter temperature should not be below 16 ° C, but, if kept completely dry, they can tolerate a few degrees less.
Light: excellent, away from direct sunlight. With insufficient light, the plant will not be able to keep alive the colors of the leaves that will "fade"; but it will take two weeks for the right exposure to see them resurface in all their spectacularity.
Watering and environmental humidity: watering must be abundant in spring-summer and reduced in autumn-winter. The humidity must be raised by any means, in particular by spraying the leaves, which have the ability to absorb water, like almost all belonging to the Bromeliads.
Substrate: mixture composed of garden soil, leaf soil and peat or sphagnum.
They can be multiplied by planting in small 5 cm pots, filled with the aforementioned substrate, the small shoots that form in the center of the rosette or at the base of the leaves. The rooting is very slow and often continue to live and reproduce only thanks to atmospheric humidity. The ideal temperature is around 21 ° C and the substrate must be kept just moist. The multiplication can be carried out at any time of the year.
Diseases, pests and adversities
- Browning of the leaf apexes and death of the same: excessive dryness of the soil.
- Leaves with dull colors: low light.