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Kalanchoe pinnata 1

Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Ordo: Saxifragales

Familia: Crassulaceae
Subfamilia: Kalanchoideae
Genus: Kalanchoe
Species: Kalanchoe pinnata

Kalanchoe pinnata (Lam.) Pers.

Bryophyllum calcicola (H. Perrier) V. V. Byal
Bryophyllum calycinum Salisb.
Bryophyllum germinans Blanco
Bryophyllum pinnatum (Lam.) Oken
Cotyledon calycina (Salisb.) Roth
Cotyledon calyculata Soland. ex Sims
Cotyledon pinnata Lam.
Cotyledon rhizophylla Roxb.
Crassula calicina Desf.
Crassula pinnata L.f.
Crassuvia floripendia Comm. ex Lam.
Crassuvia floripendula Sims
Kalanchoe brevicalyx (R.-Hamet & H. Perrier) P. Boiteau
Kalanchoe calcicola (H. Perrier) P. Boiteau
Kalanchoe floripendula Steud.
Kalanchoe pinnata var. brevicalyx R.-Hamet & H. Perrier
Kalanchoe pinnata var. calcicola H. Perrier
Sedum madagascaricum Clusius ex Fröderstr.
Vereia pinnata (Lam.) Spreng.

Native distribution areas:

Continental: Africa
Regional: Western Indian Ocean

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition

Primary references

Persoon, C.H. 1805. Synopsis plantarum, seu enchiridium botanicum, complectens enumerationem systematicam specierum hucusque cognitarum. Pars prima. XII+546 pp. Apud Carol. Frid. Cramerum, Parisiis Lutetiorum [Paris]; Apud J.G. Cottam, Tubingae [Tübingen]. BHL Biblioteca Digital Reference page. : 1:446.


Hassler, M. 2019. Kalanchoe pinnata. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World In: Roskovh, Y., Abucay, L., Orrell, T., Nicolson, D., Bailly, N., Kirk, P., Bourgoin, T., DeWalt, R.E., Decock, W., De Wever, A., Nieukerken, E. van, Zarucchi, J. & Penev, L., eds. 2019. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2019 November 28. Reference page.
Govaerts, R. et al. 2019. Kalanchoe pinnata in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2019 November 28. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2019. Kalanchoe pinnata. Published online. Accessed: November 28 2019. 2019. Kalanchoe pinnata. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2019 November 28.
USDA, ARS, Germplasm Resources Information Network. Kalanchoe pinnata in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service.

Vernacular names
English: Air Plant (USA), Cathedral Bells, Life Plant, Miracle Leaf, Goethe Plant, Mother Of Thousands, Never Dead, Parvu, Wonder-Of-The-World (Trinidad)
español: Herbe Mal Tete (Dominica), Hoja del Aire (Bolivia)
suomi: Sulkaitulehti
Hawaiʻi: 'Oliwa Ka Kahakai
தமிழ்: இரணகள்ளி

Kalanchoe pinnata, formerly known as Bryophyllum pinnatum, also known as the air plant, cathedral bells, life plant, miracle leaf, and Goethe plant is a succulent plant native to Madagascar, which is a popular houseplant and has become naturalized in tropical and subtropical areas. It is distinctive for the profusion of miniature plantlets that form on the margins of its phylloclades, a trait it has in common with some other members of Bryophyllum (now included in Kalanchoe[1]).

It is a succulent, perennial plant, about 1 m (39 in) tall, with fleshy cylindrical stems and young growth of a reddish tinge, which can be found in flower throughout most of the year.[2] The specific epithet "pinnata" is the feminine form of the Latin adjective pinnatus, meaning "winged, pinnate".[3]

Closeup of opening flower.

The leaves of this species are thick, fleshy, elliptical in shape, curved, with a crenate or serrated margin, often reddish. Simple at the base of the stem, the leaves are imparipinnate at the top, 10–30 cm (4–12 in) long, with three to five pairs of fleshy limb lobes.

The leaves are remarkable for their ability to produce bulbils. At their margin, between the teeth, adventitious buds appear, which produce roots, stems and leaves. When the plantlets fall to the ground, they root and can become larger plants. This is a fairly common trait in the section Bryophyllum. The fruits are follicles (10–15 mm) which are found in the persistent calyx and corolla.[4]

The terminal inflorescence is a panicle, with many pendent, red-orange flowers. The calyx is formed of a long tube, red at the base, veined with yellowish green (or green spotted with reddish brown), with four very small triangular lobes at the end. The tubular corolla, with a pronounced constriction separating the subspherical part of the ovoid part, is terminated by four lobes which reaches 5 cm (2.0 in) in length. It is yellowish in color with red-purple streaks. The eight stamens, each about 4 cm (1.6 in) long, are in two whorls, welded on the corolla. The ovary has four carpels, slightly fused together in the center, with slender styles.[5]

Kalanchoe pinnata has become naturalized in tropical and subtropical areas, inhabiting warm and temperate climates from sea level to 2,600 m (8,500 ft), occupying sites on rock in tropical evergreen and deciduous forests, as well as montane forests. It is found in parts of Asia, Australia, New Zealand, the West Indies, Bermuda, the Philippines, Macaronesia, the Mascarenes, Brazil, the Galapagos Islands, Melanesia, Polynesia, and Hawaii.[6] In many of these, such as Hawaii, it is regarded as an invasive species.[7] Much of the reason for the widespread naturalization of this plant can be traced to its popularity as a garden plant.

Taxonomy and nomenclature

The writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who was an amateur naturalist of some repute, was "passionately fond" of this plant and liked to give the baby plantlets as gifts to friends who visited his home. He also discussed his air plant at length in an essay titled German: Geschichte meiner botanischen Studien ("History of my botanical studies").

The plant Kalanchoe pinnata was harvested by Pierre Sonnerat in Isle de France (Mauritius) and communicated to Lamarck who described it in 1786 as the Cotyledon pinnata. Subsequently, the Paris naturalist Christiaan Hendrik Persoon reclassified it in the Kalanchoe (calling it Calanchoe pinnata 1805-1807, with an orthographic variant). At the same time, in London, the botanist Richard Anthony Salisbury described the same plant from a specimen received from Bengal, under the name of Bryophyllum calycinum, and at the same time created the new genus Bryophyllum.[8]
Common names

In Spanish it is called "siempre vivo", meaning "always alive". In Tamil Nadu, it is called Tamil: ரணகள்ளி, romanized: ranakalli. In West Bengal it is called Bengali: পাথরকুচি, romanized: patharkuchi. It is also called "Leaf of Life" and "Wonder of the World" in the English speaking Caribbean. In Maharashtra state of india it is called Marathi: पानफुटी, lit. 'whose leaves grow out from leaf(ज्यामध्ये पाने पानांमधूनच वाढतात'). In Telugu called రణపాల. In Odisha state of India, it is commonly known as Odia: ଅମରପୋଇ, romanized: amarapoi, lit. 'deathless plant'. In the Philippines it is known as katakataka or kataka-taka which is an adjective meaning 'astonishing' or 'remarkable'.[9][10][11] In Sri Lanka, it is called Sinhala: අක්කපාන, romanized: akkapäna. In Brazil it is a medicinal plant, with several common names: flor-da-fortuna, folha-da-fortuna, folha-santa, coirama, courama, saião, erva-da-costa, folha-da-costa, and frequently confused (in gardening) with Kalanchoe daigremontiana and Kalanchoe laetivirens. In Assamese it is called dupor tenga (দুপৰ টেঙা'), dupor bon (দুপৰ বন), paate goja (পাতেগজা). it is called àbámodá in Yoruba language in Southwest Nigeria.


In temperate regions, Kalanchoe pinnata is grown as an indoor ornamental plant. Like most succulents, it cannot survive hard frost and will not thrive in environments in which the temperature drops below 10 °C (50 °F). It favours well-drained soil, the roots being otherwise susceptible to rot. In the tropics, K. pinnata is grown outdoors in gardens, from which it may escape to become naturalised - often as an invasive weed.

Toxicity and traditional medicine
Leaves and flowers.

In common with other species belonging to the Crassulaceae (including certain members of the genera Tylecodon, Cotyledon and Adromischus), Kalanchoe pinnata has been found to contain bufadienolide cardiac glycosides[12] These can cause cardiac poisoning, particularly in grazing animals.[13][14]

Bryophyllum pinnatum has been recorded in Trinidad and Tobago as being used as a traditional treatment for hypertension.[15]

In traditional medicine, the juice of the leaves is also used for kidney stones, although there is ongoing research and some scientific evidence for this use but further research is required. In the French Antilles, Kalanchoe pinnata, called zeb maltet, is used in local application against headaches. For the people of the Amazon, kalanchoe has multiple uses: the Creoles use it roasted against inflammations and cancer and as an infusion, and as a popular remedy for fevers. The Palikur people of Brazil and French Guiana apply a preparation of the juice of Kalanchoe leaves mixed with coconut oil to their foreheads to treat headache.[16]

Chemical constituents

Bufadienolide compounds isolated from Bryophyllum pinnatum include bryophillin A, bersaldegenin-3-acetate, and bryophillin C.[17] Bryophillin C also showed insecticidal properties.[18]

Phytochemical studies of Kalanchoe pinnata have identified the presence of triterpenes, steroid, phenanthrene, flavonoid, flavones, chalcones, taraxasterol, aurones, phenolic acid, caffeic acid, syringic acid, malic, oxalic and ferulic acid. Bufadienolides and phenanthrene are toxic compounds. Two calves fed for 48 hours with K. pinnata have been reported to have died due to ataxia and severe cardiac arrhythmia.[19]


"Kalanchoe pinnata (Lam.) Pers". Plants of the World Online. Kew Science. Retrieved 2020-10-14.
Ali Esmail Al Snafi , " The Chemical Constituents and Pharmacological Effects of Bryophyllum calycinum. A review , International Journal of Pharma Sciences and Research (IJPSR) , vol. 4, n o 12,2013
Leslie Taylor, The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs: A Guide to Understanding and Using Herbal Medicinals , Square One Publishers,2004, 268 p.
Kamboj Anjoo, Ajay Kumar Saluja," Microscopical and Preliminary Phytochemical Studies on Aerial Part (Leaves and Stem) of Bryophyllum pinnatum Kurz." PHCOG J., Vol. 2, n° 9, 2010, p. 254–9
Batygina, T. B.; Bragina, E. A.; Titova, G. E. (1996). "Morphogenesis of propagules in viviparous species Bryophyllum daigremontianum and B. calycinum". Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae. 65 (1–2): 127–133. doi:10.5586/asbp.1996.022.
"Kalanchoe pinnata". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 2007-10-01.
"Kalanchoe pinnata". Hawaii's Most Invasive Horticultural Plants. Archived from the original on 2007-11-03. Retrieved 2007-10-01.
V. Hequet Mr Le Corre, F. Rigault V. Blanfort " Invasive alien species of New Caledonia ", Southern Province Convention , vol. C153-08,2009
"Katakataka". Philippine Medicinal Plants. Retrieved 2008-11-20.
"Kataka-taka". Filipino Herbs Healing Wonders. Archived from the original on October 17, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-20.
"Katakataka It usually used as a medicine to cure kidney stone". Tagalog English Dictionary. Archived from the original on 2013-07-03. Retrieved 2008-11-20.
Steyn, Pieter S; van Heerden, Fanie R. (1998). "Bufadienolides of plant and animal origin". Natural Product Reports. Royal Society of Chemistry. 15 (4): 397–413. doi:10.1039/a815397y. PMID 9736996. Retrieved 2007-09-19.
McKenzie RA; Dunster PJ (July 1986). "Hearts and flowers: Bryophyllum poisoning of cattle". Aust. Vet. J. 63 (7): 222–7. doi:10.1111/j.1751-0813.1986.tb03000.x. PMID 3778371.
McKenzie RA; Franke FP; Dunster PJ (October 1987). "The toxicity to cattle and bufadienolide content of six Bryophyllum species". Aust. Vet. J. 64 (10): 298–301. doi:10.1111/j.1751-0813.1987.tb07330.x. PMID 3439945.
Lans CA (2006). "Ethnomedicines used in Trinidad and Tobago for urinary problems and diabetes mellitus". J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2: 45. doi:10.1186/1746-4269-2-45. PMC 1624823. PMID 17040567.
Hermann Jacobsen : The Succulent Encyclopedia . 3. Edition. Fischer, Jena 1983, p. 275.
Supratman U; Fujita T; Akiyama K; et al. (April 2001). "Anti-tumor promoting activity of bufadienolides from Kalanchoe pinnata and K. daigremontiana x tubiflora" (PDF). Biosci. Biotechnol. Biochem. 65 (4): 947–9. doi:10.1271/bbb.65.947. PMID 11388478. S2CID 45486312.[permanent dead link]
Supratman U; Fujita T; Akiyama K; Hayashi H (June 2000). "New insecticidal bufadienolide, bryophyllin C, from Kalanchoe pinnata" (PDF). Biosci. Biotechnol. Biochem. 64 (6): 1310–2. doi:10.1271/bbb.64.1310. PMID 10923811. S2CID 25083265.[permanent dead link]
Bernard Descoings: Kalanchoe pinnata . In: Urs Eggli (ed.): Succulent lexicon. Crassulaceae (thick-leaved plants) . Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 3-8001-3998-7 , p 175

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