Friday, January 23, 2009

Desert Island Challenge

A fellow plant blogger (Shirl's Gardenwatch) issued a challenge to other plant bloggers and many (43, so far) have tackled it.  I was slow to jump on the bandwagon, but I caught the caboose.  [Imagine a bandwagon that has a caboose.]

The challenge:  If I was stuck on a desert island and could take any 3 plants with me, which plants would they be?

The details:  Forget growing requirements - any plant will survive just fine on this desert island.  Also, you don't need the plant for food or anything like that.  Just pick the plants you would want there with you.

In other words, if I could only see three plants for the rest of my days, which plants would I pick?

Of course, for anyone who likes plants this is a tough challenge.  I imagine even someone who doesn't notice plants would have trouble devising a list.

I am trying to decide whether I would want to look at some of my favorites over and over again or something that I have never kept before...  Hmm...

First, I have to choose a plant from my favorite family (Aroids).  I would choose Scindapsus pictus.  It's simply one of the most beautiful foliage plants I've ever seen - and I really like foliage plants.  I'm also a big fan of vining plants.  I'm picturing myself stuck on this island for the rest of my life, which could be a good 60-70 years, so it would be really great to see a Scindapsus pictus after 60 years of growth.

one of my small Scindapsus pictus
On the other hand, I have seen some very large Scindapsus pictus and nothing really changes about them.  Beyond the leaves getting a couple inches larger in width, the plant just keeps creeping and filling more space.  They do change growth habit a little bit when allowed to climb up the surface of a tree or rocks, so I think I would have to plant my Scindapsus pictus around a tree, allowing some to climb around on the ground and other vines to creep up the tree in the "shingling" habit.

The next plant on my list will need to be a little more dynamic and changing with time.  It will need to be something that blooms or changed leaf habit as it grows.  Potential candidates include other Aroids, like Monsteras or Philodendrons.  I think I could definitely spend a lot of time looking at plants from these two genera.  And I would enjoy watching the Monsteras produce new fenestrations as they matured.  But I have already picked an Aroid, and I have grown a lot of these.  I think I would choose a plant that I don't have - a plant that would offer something new to me.

I'm going to go for a Passion flower.  There are so many brilliantly colored Passion flowers - I don't know which color I would choose.  I would probably pick one of the purple ones, but I recently saw a picture of a red one that was pretty amazing, too.

Passion flower
Passion flower - photo from herbal extracts plus
The last plant is one that just suddenly came to me.  It is a plant I have only seen a couple of times, but it was beautiful.  The Silver Russian Olive tree.  I saw a bunch of these in Boulder, Colorado when I was there last year for a conference.  I asked my coworker what they were, knowing that he had lived there a couple of years ago and must know.  He told me they were God's curse to the world.  Well, he wasn't quite that harsh, but he said they were somewhat invasive there and had spines on them.  He had volunteered to help a friend clean up their yard and remove a tree.  Apparently he came away from the experience with some wounds.

Anyway, it didn't take anything away from their appearance if you ask me.  And I won't be chopping down any trees on my desert island, so I don't expect this tree to give me any problems.

Silver Russian Olive 'Quicksilver' (Elaeagnus angusitfolia)
The trees I saw on the side of the road in Boulder were large, with thick trunks almost black in color.  It was a great contrast with the silvery, almost white, leaves.

There's my list.  It's a weird one and the plants aren't in any way a cohesive group, but who said they needed to be?  If I made a list tomorrow, it would probably be different.  There are simply too many plants that I would enjoy viewing for the rest of my days - desert island or not.


  1. Those are really neat plants. I am familiar with passionflower-a wonderful butterfly plant, but I must see I have never even heard of the first plant. It has special leaves. The olive is lovely too-lots of shade.

  2. Hello Zach
    It is amazing with so many people that have responded to this, that we do have a lot of variety !
    I'm not familar with your first plant but, it looks great .. I do have pothos as a house plant .. some what similar ?
    I have grown Passion flower and it looked just like that picture .. and I do actually have pictures of it .. only as a potted annual here in cold Ontario.
    Russian Olive has fascinated me as well .. they are such beautiful trees with that silver gray foliage and the dark bark on the trunk .. just something about them ? LOL
    Very nice choices !

  3. Hi Zach, glad you, your plants and your caboose arrived at the desert island. I am not familiar with your first choice, the passion flower is lovely, but the silver russian olive tree is an absolute stunner

  4. Great choices Zach! Everytime I see a passion vine flower it makes me think about where I could possibly squeeze it into my garden. I almost bought one last fall at a Native Plant sale but the mature size overwhelmed me a bit! :)

  5. Hi there Zach my island ship is out on an evening cruise around the Islands ;-)

    Very nice choices! Not familiar with the first or last plant but your tree really has caught my eye :-D I love trees, silver leaves and more unusual barks and this one sounds a stunner. Oh yes… I would agree if many of us did this again tomorrow we may well pick different plants. Good job we were living for today :-D

  6. I can't believe I didn't think of vines for at least one of my three plants. Your choice of passionflower is perfect. The Silver Russian Olive Tree is a winner, too.

    Always Growing

  7. What an interesting thing to think about, and how difficult!
    It would be hard to select only three, but your choices are quite unique.
    I don't remember ever seeing the silver tree in Colorado, but possibly I did and didn't realize what it was.
    Does it actually have olives, and is it related to the olive trees in Italy?