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Beaucarnea or "smoke-eating plant"

Posted by Aldo Colombo on

Beaucarnea recurvata ('Smoke Eater' or also 'Elephant Foot') is a plant native to Central America that belongs to the Agavaceae family.

Here it is mainly used as a houseplant: the popular name, smoke-eating, is due to its resistance at home (it is one of the few plants that can live relatively close to radiators). We can therefore say that it tolerates 'smoky' environments, but certainly does not 'eat' smoke.

It is characterized by a woody trunk, swollen at the base, which in the areas of origin, with little rainfall, serves as a water reserve. From the trunk, which, in the wild, can reach a height of 8 metres, sprout tufts of long thin, ribbon-like, pointed leaves, often very long.

Also between the potted plants, some specimens can reach the 2 metres of height.

It likes well illuminated positions, even in full sun. It does not need too much watering - be careful, however, that excess water can cause the trunks to rot - and care (just remove the yellowed leaves). It does not like drafts. In winter, which in nature is the rest period, watering can be reduced.

The leaves can be planted with cochineals, which can be removed manually or with special products (anticoccidents, activated white oils).

Curiosity: when it became fashionable as a houseplant, two types of plants were available, the larger ones, with elongated trunk and the smaller ones, with hemispherical trunk. This second type was often marketed as Nolina, but in fact it was the same plant: as soon as the plant started to grow the trunk took the typical elongated shape of Beaucarnea.

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