Aphelandra Squarrosa (Zebra) Plant Information:
The name “aphe” means “ape” or “man”. In other words it refers to the fact that this plant resembles a man with its long legs and tail. It’s scientific name is Aphelocampa squarrosa.
Its common names are the Man With Two Heads, Zebra Plant, Elephant Head, and White Horsehead.
It belongs to the family Apiaceae which includes such plants as the Acacia, Cattleya, Euphorbia, Hedera Helix, and Zizyphus species. It is native to Africa and Asia. There are two subspecies of aphelandra; A.
africanum and A. albiflora.
A. africanum is found in southern Africa and Madagascar. It grows up to 12 feet tall and has a trunk reaching 6 inches in diameter.
It produces small white flowers that bloom from April through July. The leaves are opposite, oval shaped, and grow 2 inches long when young but become 4 inches long at maturity. They have 5 leaflets each, 3 on the upper side and 1 on the lower side of the leaflet. The petioles are 2.5 inches long. The flowers grow in clusters at the ends of the branches. They bloom in short racemes.
A. albiflora is found in Southeast Asia and the East Indies. It grows anywhere from 2-12 feet tall.
The trunk can reach a diameter of 4-6 inches and has a brownish gray bark. It bears short racemes of small white flowers. The leaflets are oval shaped and have one at the base of the petiole. The larger the plant, the more oval shaped the leaflets become.
Aphelandra has uses in traditional medicine in its native areas. The roots were chewed by Native Americans to relieve pain. It is used in modern medicine as well as a popular ornamental plant.
Aphelandra Zebra Cacti Houseplant Care:
The zebra cactus or aphelandra squarrosa is a low maintenance, easy to grow plant. It is an excellent choice for those new to growing cacti and succulents. They can be grown in desktops, on windowsills, or anywhere with bright light.
They can also be grown outdoors in hanging planters or in raised beds.
Aphelandra’s can withstand temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit, but will require a bit more watering when exposed to colder temperatures. They can be grown in the ground in warmer climates, but they may need to be watered more often. Overwatering can cause root rot.
They are tolerant of a wide variety of soil types but prefer a soil that is on the sandy side as opposed to clay. They can be grown in either full sun or partial shade.
They can survive long periods without water but will produce larger and healthier plants if they are watered regularly. They are tolerant of wind and can be grown outdoors. They need to be fertilized just once or twice a year.
The Aphelandra Zebra is very low maintenance and can be easily propagated by cutting off the heads of a stem and planting them in soil. It can also be propagated from seed, which should be sown when ripe.
Aphelandra prefers temperatures between 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit at day and 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit at night. The relative humidity should be around 50%.
It will grow indoors without direct sunlight but may not flower. It usually grows to a height of about 6 feet when grown indoors.
Aphelandra squarrosa (and other aphelandra species) contain alkaloids and can be toxic if ingested in large quantities. If ingested, seek immediate medical attention.
Aphelandra squarrosa photograph courtesy of Aranwen
Aphelandra Zebra Care Picture Gallery
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Cacti and Succulents
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Recipe of the Week: French Bread Pizzaiola
This is a recipe from one of our favorite restaurants, Spaghettini in Phoenix, Arizona. This delicious recipe showcases cacti and succulents in a way that is not only edible but also delicious. Enjoy!
The recipe is for 4 servings but can be easily adjusted to fit the number of people you are cooking for.
1 tbsp white wine (or water)
2 cups all-purpose flour, more for dusting
1 tsp salt
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
Olive oil, as needed
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, more to taste
14 oz can whole tomatoes, crushed
8 baby octopus, cleaned and sliced 1/2 inch thick (or 8 oz squid tubes, sliced 1/2 inch thick)
1 lb calamari bodies, cleaned and sliced 1/2 inch thick (or baby squid, sliced 1/2 inch thick)
12 littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 cup white wine
1 tbsp chopped basil, plus more for garnish
1 tsp chopped oregano, plus more for garnish
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp finely grated parmesan cheese, for garnish
To make the dough, combine the wine and warm water in a large bowl. Stir in the yeast and 1 tbsp of the sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Add 2 cups of the flour and the salt. Stir until combined, adding more flour as needed to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, until smooth. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and cut into 4 pieces. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll it out until it’s paper thin. (You may need to add more flour as you go along).
Transfer the crust onto a baking sheet dusted with flour. Bake for 5 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown around the edges.
While the first pizza crust bakes, prepare the remaining dough and toppings.
In a large pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until golden, about 1 minute. Stir in the pepper flakes, then add the tomatoes.
Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
In another large pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles when dropped into the pan. Working in batches, add the octopus and calamari to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.
Add the clams to the same pan, cover, and cook until they open, about 5 minutes. Remove the clams as they open and discard any that do not open. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve and reserve.
Add the wine to the pan used to cook the clams and cook over medium-high heat until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Add the octopus, calamari, and reserved clam cooking liquid and bring to a simmer. Cook for 1 minute.
Stir in the chopped basil and oregano.
Spoon a layer of the tomato sauce onto each crust, then top with clams, calamari, and octopus. Top with grated cheese and bake until the cheese has melted, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly and garnish with basil and oregano.
From: Craft of Baking, By Sarah Eisenberg
Sources & references used in this article:
Caring for houseplants (2010) by DH Trinklein – 2010 – mospace.umsystem.edu
Houseplant Care by B Pleasant – 2005 – Storey Publishing
Growing indoor plants with success by D Hillock, D Needham – 2006 – shareok.org
Indoor Gardening the Organic Way: How to Create a Natural and Sustaining Environment for Your Houseplants by SV Pennisi – 2009 – athenaeum.libs.uga.edu
House Plants: Proper Care and Problem Solving by JB Davis – 2006 – books.google.com
Care of house plants (revised 1970) by RG Askew, DD Kopp – 1996 – library.ndsu.edu
Care of house plants (revised 1979) by RE Widmer – 1970 – conservancy.umn.edu
The Complete Guide to Keeping Your Houseplants Alive and Thriving: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply by RE Widmer, LK Cutkomp, M Ascerno, FL Pfleger – 1979 – conservancy.umn.edu