Green Thumb: Madagascar Jewel






One of my “interim” jobs (between graphic designer to the jack-of-all-trades “coordinator of education & outreach” that I am now) was as a glorified office-plant-waterer in NYC…which is how I managed to acquire the cutting of what eventually grew into a mysterious cactus/succulent-looking plant with huge leaves. I always wondered what it was, but never put too much work into finding out. That is, until we suffered a power outage while away for Thanksgiving and I lost a few of my precious houseplants to the cold. One that was lost (or so I thought…) was the mysterious plant, which resulted in a flurry of research on my part.

So now I know: It’s a “Madagascar Jewel” –


I’m using this lovely photo from You Grow Girl as the “before” shot, because after the cold spell, every leaf on my beautiful plant fell off, leaving nothing but the cactus-like stalk. After finally identifying the Jewel (Googling sentences like: “weird tubular cactus with broad leaves”), I frantically searched for where I could buy a replacement. Not so easy apparently! The only Ebay seller I found was located in Australia, with strict rules on no shipments outside of the country. I did find other bloggers who either knew of or had acquired a plant, like You Grow Girl and Plants are the Strangest People…and even debated contacting them for possible “leads” (or maybe even a new cutting!).

But being the voice of reason, Butch suggested that I just be patient and see if the leaves would grow back after the plant warmed up again. And in my research I found that losing leaves is a common occurrence when the Jewel winters-over, so….


Patience really is a virtue! But this episode is reminding me that perhaps I should start a second plant from one of the off-shoots that have started growing out of the main trunk. Interestingly, these plants are known for, pardon me, “ejaculating poisonous sperm” to start new plants. This is news to me, as in all the years I’ve had this plant, I’ve yet to see a new plant appear in the soil itself – but I do remember mini plants growing alongside the mama-Jewel from which I received my cutting…It’s also a good thing that my cats aren’t plant-eaters, or else I would have to make sure the Jewel was well out of reach.

So, yet another reason I would love to visit Madagascar…

P.S. Happy Birthday, Butchy!! xoxo

Top photo of the Madagascar Jewel from You Grow Girl


4 responses to “Green Thumb: Madagascar Jewel

    • Yes definitely! The other plants I lost are fairly easy to come by if I want to replace them (peace lily, hibiscus, kalanchoe)…But that Madagascar Jewel would have been a pain!

  1. I have a Madagascar Jewel plant and many baby’s after 15 year’s of growing it …looking to sell them.

  2. I’ve had one of those for 4 years now and have bad no problem getting babies from it. The “sperm” does not create babies, just possible allergic reactions to the skin, I have even read that it can cause cancerous growths.
    Never have I seen a baby grow from the stem of the mother ship, as I call her. They all happily grow in the same pot, as it shoots the seeds everywhere it can.
    If anybody would like to get some seeds or babies, we have plenty of them…:-)

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