solana succulents

Indulge me, if you would, a quick return to last month’s San Diego County Fair. There, in the flower show going on in the botanical building, I ran across this one class they had for “most unusual foliage.” Flowers are great, but so are leaves. This little display included a few pretty special examples.

Here you see variegated milk thistle and a fuzzy kalanchoe leaf, thick and rigid like many layers of felt.

This was the winning leaf, from a succulent echevaria. Not the prettiest thing on earth, but it definitely fit the “most unusual” category.

While at the fair I ran across the display I ran across the display mounted by Solana Succulents. The place has been around for a while, but I’d never taken the short trip to north county to check it out. This past weekend I took John up for a quick visit.

Heading north, once you clear the thin atmosphere of Del Mar, you come upon a chain of fun, funky little beach towns on the way up the coast. A visit to Solana Beach and neighboring Encinitas will give you some comfort that the 1960s never went away very far, though they did get a little reinterpreted and gentrified.

Solana Succulents occupies the outdoor spaces of a little house that’s been converted into a shop. I liked its tight, funky feel. You’ll find little succulent gifts, bigger landscape specimens, as well as some wild curiosities that’ll probably keep a connoisseur happy. With so many pointy, sharp plants around, this is no place to take your toddler. But for two people who find succulents totally cool it was a great way to spend part of an afternoon.

Here’s a brief gallery of some of the hundreds of neat plants there. I tried to get the names, but a few plants weren’t labeled. And beyond that there were some unknowns mixed into the offerings.

A cool red aloe or gasteraloe hybrid.
Another aloe or aloe hybrid with cool red summer coloring.
Aloe andongensis, a species with gentle spots and a distinct gold aura.
The fuzzed flower buds of Aloe tomentosa. The plant is a pretty basic green aloe, but these woolly flowers make up for the ordinary plant.
Espostoa lanata: Was it Freud who said, 'Sometimes a succulent is just a succulent?'
One of the variegated forms of Agave lophantha, a nice little spiky bundle not much over a foot across at this point.
A nice boxed euphorbia specimen.
Euphorbia polygona, one of many Old-World euphorbias that mimic New-World cactus.
And a real New World cactus, one of the weirdly blue-colored species in the genus Pilosocereus. The owner needed to look up the exact species, but he said it wasn't the more common azureus.
I really flaked on the name of this one. Maybe one of the stapelia relatives? EDIT 7/16/2010: Thanks to Candy, who has identified this plant as Euphorbia pugniformis f. cristata.

There was this short little plant with a bulbous, succulent base. It had fewer than a half-dozen leaves. But what stunning leaves. I thought they had a great gold-dust effect to them. And then John suggested that I wipe the potting soil off the leaves. Okay, no more gold dust effect, but still a great plant. Not all succulents are squat, spiny, leafless little auditions for a horror movie. This plant is proof. But I think a lot of the other plants I've shown are further proof of that.

9 thoughts on “solana succulents”

  1. Squat, spiny, leafless? Not here 😉 We have tree aloes. And apart from ferox we leave the spines to Tex-Mex. I even have a succulent Pelargonium which finishes the thick fleshy stems with garnishes of delicately feathered leaves.

  2. Hi! I am a succulent freak that lives in California. I found your blog doing google search for words like succulent. I know the name of the weird green succulent that you didn’t know the name of. Believe is or not it is a Euphorbia pugniformis f. cristata. My flickr shot of my big one is here:
    I’m a fairly new blogger with lots of succulents and other stuff to show!

    See ya!

  3. What an interesting show! I think Freud would have been jealous of that cactus.

    I love that red aloe plant.

    To be honest, that echeveria leave gives me the willies. Do NOT like it!

  4. Stockton, I guess the red aloe wasn’t too rare because it was priced really reasonably. Which of course meant I had to have it…

    EE, for brazenly architectural plants I think you’ve got most of the rest of the world beat! I wonder if there’s anything that could be said about the American mindset developing the way it did because the country produced such dangerously spiny plants…

    Candy, thanks for stopping by my blog and sharing your identification of one of the mystery plants. Your Flikr image of it is gorgeous–really stunning!

    Wendy, I think the echeveria leaf wins for being “most unusual,” but like you, I find it more than a little unsettling. It looks more than a little like a tumor growth, don’t you think? I’ve seen that variety offered occasionally, but it hasn’t made it into my garden.

  5. How I miss my San Diego plants. At one point when living in Cardiff, I had more than 150 pots of succulents on my deck–given away when we moved to WA. My favorites were always the Argyroderma, which I called living rocks, from S Africa. So odd and unplant-like.

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