The life plant refuses to die if it is given even half a chance to live. Originally a native of the Dutch East Indies, it has journeyed far and found Bermuda an ideal spot in which to thrive. Along the roads and in rocky waste-land the life plant grows in abundance. It is curious and beautiful when in flower, growing some three feet in height. Each flower hangs on a slender stalk and when in full bloom the general effect is that of a fountain in a state of arrested motion.
The petals of the flower are dark brownish-red and the calyx is green shaded purple and is bladder-like in form. Children get a satisfactory “pop” out of these bladders in the bud stage and call the plants “floppers.: Youngsters also peel back the petals of the mature flower to get the “soldiers,” as they call the stamens.
The leaf is a botanical curiosity well worth studying. Each indentation along the leaf margin contains a bud and potential plant. It is worth risking the bad luck that superstition says attends the propagating plant indoors. A leaf, pinned to the wall, will soon sprout leaflets and roots nourished by the fleshy pump of the parent leaf. These “budlings” can be transplanted or the whole leaf can be placed on damp soil to produce a new patch of Bryophyllum, as botanists call the plant. Probably it is sinful to smuggle a leaf into another country, but to have a leaf sprouting on the studio wall is a pleasant reminder of the islands.
The life plant, even before its blooming period, is indeed handsome with its large glossy leaves often edged with rich brown. In winter when it is in full bloom, all Bermudians know its decorative value. Cut, it will last waterless for days.