This spectacular multi-branched succulent shrub from Africa is this year producing a great many flower spikes now opening into spires of deep coral flowers held aloft above whorls of blue-green foliage, each leaf margin heavily barbed with lime green teeth.
The individual flowers are arranged in conical racemes, each bud tip dipped in grey-green. The tubular flowers open in whorls from the base, a slow incandescence.
The fleshy foliage provides water storage capacity and the muscular, whorled arrangement directs rainfall to the roots. Similar characteritics are displayed by the new-world agaves in the American beds opposite. This phenomenon, whereby entirely unrelated plants display similar adaptations to the same environmental conditions, in this case low water supply, is known as convergent evolution.
Just outside this Arid Lands display are a selection of plants from Madagascar, including the lovely Kalanchoe tubiflora, our current Looking Good Now pick.