Two Departments

Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Cell & Systems Biology

One Growth Facility


A-Desert House | B-Palm House | C-Temperate House | D-Orchid-Tropical

Xerophyte House                   ES 5001=A

Xerophytes are plants that are adapted for arid environments. Common xerophytic features include: succulent tissues that store water and organic acids, photosynthetic stems with reduced surface area, waxy cuticles to limit water loss, sharp spines, reflective hairs, and underground tubers. Xerophytism is an example of evolutionary convergence, in which distinctly dissimilar ancestors give rise to similar descendants through selection for a common set of features.

Cactus family

(Cactaceae, stem succulents. North, Central and South America):

-Barrel cactus (Echinocactus  grusonii) A
-Blue myrtle columnar cactus (Myrtillocactus geometrizans) A
-Bishop’s cap cactus (Astrophytum myriostigma) flower. Native to Mexico A
-Old man cactus (Cephalocereus senilis) A

Succulent family

(Crassulaceae, worldwide distribution, many CAM species):

-Elephant’s ear kalanchoe (Kalanchoe beharensis) A
-Mother of millions (Kalanchoe tubiflora) inflorescence A
-Saucer plant (Aeonium pseudo tabulaeforme) A
-Donkey tail (Sedum morganianum) A
Pachyphytum oviferum native to Mexico A
Echevaria pulvinata native to Mexico A

Spurge family

(Euphorbiaceae, worldwide: most succulent species African):

-Crown of thorns (Euphorbia splendens, or Euphorbia milii var. splendens) A
-Candelabra tree (Euphorbia candelabrum) A
-Baseball “cactus'” (Euphorbia obesa) A

Oleander family


-Madagascar “palm” (Pachypodium lamerei) A

Ice plant family

(Aizoaceae, mostly native to Africa, leaf succulents):

-Ice plant (Mesembryanthemum salmii) flw A
-Crystalline Ice plant (Mesembryanthemum crystalinum) A
-Living stones (Lithops, “window” leaves) flw. A

Xanthorrhoeaceae Subfamily: Asphodeloideae

Gasteria variegata   flws, nectar & flws.  Genus is mostly native to the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa A

Subfamily: Asphodeloideae

Haworthia cuspidata is a succulent, rosette forming plant supposedly a cross between Haworthia retusa and Haworthia cymbiformis Endemic to Southern Africa (Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, South Africa) A

Lily family

(Liliaceae and relatives, worldwide distribution)

-Agave** (Agave sp.) Most species are monocarpic, though a few can flower several times during their life.  Agave  americana, common names century plant A
-Aloe (Aloe candalabrum) tree succulent from S. Africa  >500 species Flowering Dec 2016-Jan 2017  Pollination ecology pdf A
-Climbing onion (Bowiea volubilis S. Africa native) A
** Agave is now known to be paraphyletic over the genera Manfreda, Polianthes, and Prochnyanthes
stapelia_angulataandflyStapelia angulata
Carrion flowers emit the smell of rotting flesh to attract flies or beetles as pollinators.  This pollination system has evolved in multiple families and is another example of convergent evolution.  Genera with species known as corpse flowers include Amorphophallus (Amorphophallus titanum), Rafflesi, Stapelia, Smilax or Nemexia and Bulbophyllum (Orchid)
-Carrion flower (Stapelia bellaStapelia angulata,  S. Africa. pollinated by flies) flw.  Milkweed family (Asclepiadaceae) A
-String of hearts (Ceropegia woodii, note stem tubers), flws A
Sansevieria thyrsiflora, S. Africa.  Wijnands (1973, Taxon 22:109-114, pdf) stated the correct name for this species is Sansevieria hyacinthoides (family Agavaeae) A

Aster family


-Pencil ragwort (Senecio anteuphorbia also known as Kleinia neriifolia)(lvs) A
-String of pearls (Senecio rowleyanus succulent “window” leaves) A


(a monospecific gymnospermous family)

-Welwitschia (Welwitschia mirabilis, Namibian native xerophyte) Welwitschia cones A


Palm house                          ES 5003= B


Palms are emblematic of the warm moist tropics and are almost unique among flowering plants in that they form large trees with sturdy, unbranched trunks (despite lacking true wood-forming secondary growth). Most striking are the gigantic corrugated leaves that provide a huge photosynthetic surface, yet remain mechanically strong.

Palm family


-Mediterranean fan palm (Chamaerops humilis) B
-California fan palm (Washingtonia filifera, California native) B
-Cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto, Florida native) B
-Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis) B
-Coconut palm (Cocos nucifera, simple seedling leaves) B
-Royal palm (Roystonea regia, Florida & West Indies) B
-Fishtail palm (Caryota sp.) B
-Panama hat palm (Carludovica palmata. belongs to distantly related family Cyclanthaceae) B


(Cycadaceae, Zamiaceae)

Cycads are primitive non-flowering seed plants (gymnosperms) that flourished across much of the earth’s surface during the Triassic and Jurassic eras ~ 250 -125 million years ago.  Today, there are just  ~ 150 species remaining in the tropics and subtropics of the Americas, Africa and Asia. They are distinguished by their palm-like  appearance and cone-bearing separate sexes.
-Cardboard palm (Zamia furfuracea, Mexico) A
Cycas revoluta (Sago palm, King sago, Sago cycad, Japanese sago palm) is native to southern Japan A
-Cycad (Zamia loddigesii, Mexico) A
-Coontie or Seminole bread (Zamia floridana) Controversy has long existed over the classification of Zamia in Florida. (e.g., Z. augustifolia, Z. floridana, Z. silvicola, and Z. umbrosa). The Flora of North America treats all of the American populations as Z. integrifolia. A
-Mexican horncone cycad (Ceratozamia mexicana trunks up to 2 M high)
-Queen sago cycad (Cycas circinalis, seeds contain toxin

Other horticultural and edible tropical plants:

-Air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera, Dioscoreaceae, like yam tubers, bulbils should be detoxified before eating) B
-Begonia (Begonia caroliniaefolia, Begoniaceae) B
-Black pepper (Piper nigrum, Piperaceae) B
-Cecropia (Cecropia sp. Urticaceae) B
-Cocoa (Theobroma cacao, Sterculiaceae, prized by Mayans) B
-Coffee (Coffea arabica, Rubiaceae) B
-Dwarf banana (Musa sp. Musaceae) B
Hymenocallis littoralis  is a genus of American plants in the Amaryllis family. Native to S. US, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and N. South America B
-Java rose grape (Medinilla javanensis, Melastomataceae) B
-Kapok (Ceiba pentandra, Malvaceae, sacred to Mayans) B
-Sacred fig (Ficus religiosa, Moraceae) B
-Sandbox tree / ”Monkey-no-climb”  Hura crepitans, (Euphorbiaceae) is a tree growing to 40 meters high. It can be distinguished by its many dark, pointed (conical) spines. Its common name ‘Monkey-no-climb is in reference to the characteristic spiny trunk. D


Gnetum is a genus of gymnosperms, the sole genus in the family Gnetaceae and order Gnetales. They are tropical evergreen trees, shrubs and lianas. Unlike other gymnosperms they possess vessel elements in the xylem. Some species have been proposed to have been the first plants to be insect pollinated as their fossils occur in association with the extinct pollinating scorpionflies.  ……………………………………see Wikipedia

-Gnetum (Gnetum gnemon, southeast Asia) B


Temperate house           (ES 5005= C)


Many southern hemisphere conifers have broad, multi-veined leaves, in contrast to more familiar northern hemisphere conifers (such as pines, firs, spruces and cedars) that typically have needles or scales. Despite these shape differences, conifer leaves typically share these features: evergreen-ness, chemical defenses such as tannins and resins, reduced surface area, thick cuticle and wax coatings.
-Bunya pine (Araucaria bidwellii, northeast Australia native) C
-Canary Island pine (Pinus canariensis) C
-Kauri pine (Agathis robusta, northeast Australia) C
-Norfolk island pine (Araucaria heterophylla) C
-Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis, a “living fossil” related to Araucaria, discovered in Australia, 1994) C
-Yew pine (Podocarpus macrophyllus , s. Japan, China native) C

Other plants of botanical and horticultural interest:

-Bottle brush (Callistemon viminalis, Myrtaceae) C
-Curry tree (Murraya koenigii) C
-Butcher’s broom (Ruscus aculeatus (Liliaceae, leaf-like stems) C
-Calamondin (x Citrofortunella mitis,
-Cardamom (Elletaria cardamomum, Zingiberaceae) C
-Firecracker fuchsia (Fuchsia triflora, Onagraceae) C
-Madagascar periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus, Apocynaceae; alkaloids vinblastine and vincristine used in treatment of leukemia) C
-Star cluster (Pentas lanceolata, Rubiaceae) C
-Strawberry guava (Psidium cattleianum, Myrtaceae, Brazil native,but widespread in tropics & invasive, especially in Hawaii)  Fruit, Leaves
-Pineapple guava (Feijoa sellowiana)(aka Acca sellowiana), Evergreen shrub in the Myrtaceae, native S. Brazil, E. Paraguay, Uruguay, N.Argentina, and Colombia C
Rhaphiolepis indica, or Indian hawthorn, is an evergreen shrub in the family Rosaceae.  native to S. China, Japan, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand & Vietnam. C
-Yellow box (Eucalyptus melliodora, Myrtaceae, honey production in Aust)
-Sensitive plant (Mimosa pudica,  Fabaceae) C
-Avacado (Persea americana, Lauraceae)
a tree native to Mexico and Central America,

Agressive Weeds

Fallopia japonica is a synonym of Reynoutria japonica, commonly known as Japanese knotweed. C
-Purple Loosetrife (Lythrum salicaria L.) is an invasive wetland species native to Europe and Asia. The plant was likely introduced when its seeds were included in soil used as ballast in European sailing ships and discarded in North America in the 19th century. Research pdf Zone 6

Tropical house                (ES 5009= D)


Plant insectivory has also evolved independently several times. Although different genera of insectivorous plants often look quite distinct, they all have special features that attract, trap, digest and absorb insects.
-Butterwort (Pinguicula “Weser” cultivar, Lentibulariaceae) D
-Tropical pitcher plant (Nepenthes sp., Nepenthaceae. s.e. Asia) male flws D
-Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) flw zone 1
-Sundew (Drosera) flw zone 1
Byblis  Native to Western Australia zone 1
Epiphytes use other plants for support, thus keeping their leaves, flowers and fruits high in the canopy without going to the expense of building woody trunks and branches themselves.  As with other examples of evolutionary convergence, different groups of plants have evolved adaptations for epiphytism, including modified roots for anchorage, modified leaves for absorption of water and nutrients, and mechanisms for water conservation:


(Polypodiaceae and other families)

-Bird’s nest fern (Asplenium nidus) D
-Brasilian tree fern (Blechnum brasiliense) D
-Golden polypody (Polypodium aureum) D
-Japanese holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum) D
-Whisk fern (Psilotum nudum) D

Orchid family


-Black jewel orchid (Ludisia discolor, terrestrial, Malaysian native) D
 -Vanda kultana Delight x V. Dr. Auek FCC D
-Blue orchid (x Vanda coerula, southeast Asia) D
Stanhopea tigrina, endemic to Mexico.  A characteristic of this orchid is the way the inflorescence comes from the bottom D
-Spotted Brassia (Brassia maculata, Central America) D
-Clamshell orchid (Prosthechea cochleata) formerly Anacheilium cochleatum D
-Darwin’s orchid (Angraecum sesquipedale, Madagascar) D
-The Sweet Scented Lycaste (Lycaste aromatica) D
Dendrobium lindleyi  syn. D. aggregatum mountains of southern China and Southeast Asia D
-Epidendrum (Epidendrum sp., Amer. tropics & subtropics)    Epidendrum cilare D
-Slipper orchid (Paphiopedilum insigne, terrestrial, s.e. Asia) D
-Vanilla orchid (Vanilla fragrans, Mexico, prized by Mayans) Vanilla planifolia D

Bromeliad family

(Bromeliaceae, Amer. Tropics & subtropics):

-Blue flowered torch (Tillandsia lindenii) D
-Octopus plant (Tillandsia caput-medusae) D
-Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) D


(Sedge family)

Cyperus papyrus  Used by humans, notably by the Ancient Egyptians to make papyrus paper D



Stephanotis floribunda (Madagascar jasmine, Waxflower, Hawaiian wedding flower) native to Madagascar. developing fruit and mature dehiscent fruit D



(Knottweed family)

Homalocladium platycladum (centipede plant, tapeworm plant or ribbonbush) is a plant in the knotweed family from New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. H. platycladum flowers, flowers & fruit D



Myrmecodia sp. Ant Plant    Origin: Southeastern Asia.  These plants have an expanded stem which functions as an ant domatia (=ant-house).  The ant-plant association maybe mutualistic.  The ants get a home and the plant get protection from herbivores. D