On February 8, 2008 I stumbled upon a purple-brown, chocolate, lily-like flower during my walk through Rice Canyon Open Space Preserve; it turned out to be a rare flower that only blooms when we have a wet, rainy season in Chula Vista. The Fritillaria biflora ‘Chocolate Lily’ grows on the grassland foothills and is endemic to Rice Canyon. For the past 8 years during my walks in Rice Canyon, in the months of January – February, I’m always hopeful that I’d spot this beauty once again, but with the lack of rain I’ve had no such luck. Until this year, on February 23rd. During my many walks through Rice Canyon, I was trying to spot the Where’s Waldo of blooms on the grassy, rolling hillside of the canyon, with the recent and much needed rains, I found the elusive ‘Chocolate Lily.’
(hover mouse over each picture)
Fritillaria biflora ‘Chocolate Lily’ is a species in the Liliaceae family that is endemic to California and northern Baja. Fritillaria biflora is called ‘Chocolate Lily’ because its bell-shaped flowers resemble the color of chocolate.
Named after Rudolf Marloth, a South African botanist, this unbranched large aloe often grows up to 10 feet tall and normally has a trunk densely covered by the withered old leaves. Mountain Aloe leaves can be up to 4′ feet in length, gray-green color, with reddish-brown spines along the margins and randomly on other parts of the leaf.
In late fall to late winter appears the wide-spread branching inflorescence bearing yellow to red-orange flowers. Plant in full sun in a well-drained soil. Requires little to no supplemental irrigation in coastal California gardens. this species of aloe has an especially large robust head of stiff, grey-green leaves.
Flowering takes place through the winter months.
The distinctively horizontal branches of its inflorescence is an easy way to distinguish this species from other aloes. For this reason it is sometimes known as the Flat-Flowered Aloe.
This Torch Aloe is a large densely growing succulent shrub that can grow up to 6-8 feet tall and can equally spread 6-8 feet wide with branching stems holding many 18 inch wide rosettes of narrow recurved soft-toothed margined leaves that are dull green, gray-green, yellow-green, orange-red to sometimes blue-green depending on the location and amount of sunlight received.
Aloe arborescens is fast-growing and it will tolerate drought and neglect once established, it’s easily propagated from a branch or cut stem. Once cut, allow to dry for 5-7 days or until the wound has sealed and calloused over, and then plant in well-drained soil. They don’t need to be rooted in a container, just transplant directly into their permanent place in the garden or landscape. It is important to remember not to water cuttings; overwatering may cause them to rot.
Torch Aloe is grown mainly as an ornamental or as an accent plant, but is also an excellent and impenetrable hedge plant. Plant in full sun (coast) to light shade. This drought tolerant plant does great in coastal California without any supplementary irrigation.
This cabbage-like succulent is actually an Echeveria; it looks similar to red leaf lettuce or red cabbage. Its large flat leaves crinkle and frill at the edges forming rosettes up to 12 inches in diameter. The rosettes are pale green when young, and then develop shades of blue and pink with age. Edges can turn red to burgundy when grown in the sun.
This Echeveria is perfect for medium decorative pots in your outdoor living area or as a feature on your table.
Echeverias have some of the most beautiful flowers when they bloom.