Kalanchoe pinnata

Kalanchoe pinnata (Lam.) pers.

Common Names: Life Leaf, Leaf of Life, Life Plant

Family: Crassulaceae

Habit: Kalanchoe pinnata grows as a succulent herb to 2 meters tall when flowering, vegetative growth to 50 cm in height with hollow stems.  In young plants the oppositely arranged leaves are simple becoming tri-pinnately compound as the plant matures. The leaf/leaflets are elliptic to 20 cm in length with a notched margin that produces plantlets and a rounded apex.

The complete, perfect, actinomorphic, pendulant, flowers are arranged in large panicles. The calyx has 4 fused sepals forming a tube. The corolla has 4 fused petals forming a tube that exceeds the calyx.  There are 8 stamens fused to the base of the corolla.  The ovary is superior with 4 locules and numerous seeds.  The fruit is a capsule at maturity.

Habitat: Kalanchoe pinnata grows in Human Altered environments particularly around abandoned dwellings and the edges of Dry Broadleaf Evergreen Formation- Shrublands as well as in yards and gardens..

Distribution: Kalanchoe pinnata occurs on all island groupings within the Bahamian Archipelago. Kalanchoe pinnata is native to Madagascar but widely distributed through tropical and subtropical regions of the world. 

Medicinal/Cultural/Economic usage:  While not native to the Bahamas Kalanchoe pinnata is used widely for medicinal purposes including respiratory illnesses (asthma, coughing, tuberculosis) and pain (headaches strains, painful urination/kidney infections).

In other areas of the Caribbean it is used as a cooling tea or as a poultice for sores.

It is also grown as an ornamental but can become problematic as it spreads rapidly by vegetative reproduction.