The Mysterious Mezoo
It appears there is some seriously messed up nomenclature in the Aizoaceae (“ice plant family”). A fact I’d noticed long before I wrote this post.
My personal history with this family began at a certain campsite in a certain village in Sardinia, where I spent many a childhood summer. There was a plant growing there that became known in our family as ‘the campsite flower’. (No points for creativity there.) We brought cuttings home, along with a bunch of other plants – most of them stayed with us until my parents’ divorce and the subsequent move, but the ‘campsite flower’ died relatively soon.
Years later, when I’d all but forgotten about the plant, my mother showed me what she’d been given by our neighbour – a ‘campsite flower’. Childhood memories came flooding back, but by then I was old enough that the lack of a proper name started bugging me. Still, it was entered into the plant list as ‘Campsite Flower’, because I didn’t even know what family it might be.
In 2007, I stumbled upon a plant with similar flowers at a horticultural show and changed the list to ‘possibly a Delosperma species’.
It took me another year until I happened on a familiar-looking picture in a plant encyclopedia (Botanica, which could easily be used as a murder weapon) – the ‘campsite flower’ was Aptenia cordifolia.
The next year, I was wandering around the school greenhouses and came upon two Aptenias, freshly tagged for the upcoming Open Day. As ‘Portulaca grandiflora‘. Ouch. Just ouch!
I went up to the greenhouse teacher the next day and begged her to change it. Messed-up names annoy me no end.
Which brings us back to the mysterious ‘Mezoo’.
Syngenta (and apparently everyone else) calls ‘Mezoo Trailing Red’ Dorotheanthus bellidiformis. Which I absolutely refuse to believe.
I’m no longer convinced it is Aptenia cordifolia, either. Not just because Theatrum Botanicum disagrees – it looked a lot like Aptenia when we got the little plants, and the leaves were still small, but now they’re a lot bigger than I’ve ever seen on any Aptenia. Although Wikipedia says Aptenia leaves can get up to 3 cm long, and the ‘Botanica’ says 2.5 cm, and that’s about the size the leaves were when I last checked this morning.
Either way, they’re not Dorotheanthus bellidiformis. I had to check the seed shop in the town centre and two garden centres, but I got my Dorotheanthus seeds at last.
Just so I can prove what I knew all along, that they’ve got totally different leaves. Different flowers, too, I guess, though my first attempt at growing them, back when I was 15 or 16, wasn’t very successful, so I never got flowers. I hope to get some this year, for additional proof.
And since I was already in the garden centre, I browsed the bookshelves, too, and finally found a halfway decent book on balcony plants. Which I bought. I took a brief look into it on the way back to my bike, and ouch. Ouch.
That’s no Dorotheanthus bellidiformis, either. Or else all the seed companies, ‘Botanica’ and most people who’ve got pictures online have got it wrong.
It looks kinda like this, which I photographed in Italy a couple of years ago (and also saw growing in Sardinia):
Might be a kind of Carpobrotus, but it’s too late today to do any real research.