Grandpa’s Pipe, Inch Plant, etc.
Callisia fragrans (Lindl.) Woodson is the correct and accepted scientific name for this species. It was given this name and described as such by Robert Everard Woodson in Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden in 1942. It was first named Spironema fragrans Lindl. by John Lindley in Edward’s Botanical Register in 1840. It was also named Rectanthera fragrans (Lindl.) O. Deg. by Otto Degener in 1932 in Flora Hawaiiensis.
My Callisia fragrans was given to me by the owner of Wagler’s Greenhouse in 2017. The owner of Wagler’s and I have been exchanging plants since 2013 and I always find something I don’t have. My sister and niece like to come down from Kansas City to buy plants from the local greenhouses and our first stop is usually Wagler’s. In fact, I lived here 3 years before I even knew there were 3 others. Anyway, the day I took them plant shopping I saw several of this plant I didn’t see before. I thought it was some type of Bromeliad because it looked similar. She said someone gave her a start and told her it was called “Grandpa’s Pipe”.
When I got home with several plants AGAIN, I took photos as usual then went to the computer. I had to know the genus and species of the Grandpa’s Pipe. Strangely enough, I typed the name in the search window and came up with Callisia fragrans. The name “Grandpa’s Pipe” was nowhere to be found as a common name on any of the websites I visited. How in the heck could I find the plant with that name when it isn’t even mentioned? Can my computer now read my mind?
I found out that this plant is NOT a species of Bromeliad as I suspected. It is a member of the Commelinaceae family (dayflower family and spiderwort family). SO, this plant is in the same family with my Tradescantia (Spiderworts).
Origin: Native to Mexico
Zones: 10b-11 (35-40° F)
Light: Light to part shade.
Soil: Well-drained potting soil
Flowers: White flowers in late winter-early spring.
Propagation: Stem cuttings.
Right off the bat, “this plant” started growing like its life depended on it. It had found a new home with this crazy guy that likes weird plants and it decided to show me what it was made of. It soon started sending out shoots here and there and within no time my potting table looked like a Callisia freeway, sending roads everywhere it wanted to travel to.
Although some information online says the Callisia can be grown in sun to part shade, I think the full sun would not be a good idea. Mine did very well behind the shed with the other potted plants in light to part shade. Brighter light does seem to make the leaves have a reddish pigment, which according to the plant, is a good thing. I would imagine that full sun would burn this plant to a crisp, though.
San Marcos Growers says that when the Callisia fragrans is grown in more light, they will lay flat and they grow upright in more shade. When they grow flat they look like a cluster of Bromeliads. They say that the name Tradescantia dracaenoides and False Bromeliad are associated with this plant and the scientific name is invalid. I checked out the name and Plants of the World online says it is a synonym of Tradescantia macrophyllum. That species is native to central and southwest Mexico.
The Callisia fragrans has antiviral and antimicrobial properties. The leaves are used to treat various skin diseases, burns, and joint disorders. One website says chewing the leaves will quickly relieve headaches. Some information suggests the sun increases the medicinal quality. The leaves are said to be juicy and have a pleasant taste. Hmmm… Maybe I will have a sample.
Callisia fragrans, according to scientists, have biologically active substances, vitamins and minerals found at the optimum ratio.
Callisia fragrans Has being studied in Russia for more than 20 years by scientists.
This plant is also known as the house Ginseng, Family Doctor, Golden Moustache or heals 100 ailments.
The whole plant posses curative compounds, although the juice has higher concentrations in the stem. Callisia juice contains two groups of flavonoids, quercetin, and kaempferol.
Quercetin has antioxidant and anti-allergic properties and reduces the permeability of the capillaries and stabilizes membranes. It is used to treat inflammatory diseases, arthritis, arthrosis, bronchial asthma, allergic skin, mucous diseases, and cardiovascular diseases.
Kaempferol is used as a tonic, capillary-reinforcing and as a diuretic. It is used to treat urinary system and allergic diseases.
In addition to flavonoids, Callisia has a group of steroids. Steroids act as biological controls to help the body to stimulate protein synthesis cells, contributing to the early renewal of muscle tissue cells. Callisia fragrans highly active substances, such as beta-sitosterol, helps reduce cholesterol levels in the blood and to strengthen and cleanse the walls of blood vessels. It is used for the treatment of atherosclerosis, metabolic diseases, endocrine system, inflammations of the prostate, etc.
In addition to flavonoids and steroids, Callisia fragrans includes various vitamins and minerals. There is vitamin C, vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and V15 (Pantothenic acid), ans vitamin RR (nicotine acid). It also contains the micronutrients copper, iron, nickel, among others.
I have really enjoyed my Callisia fragrans companion. Watching it grow has been very interesting for sure.
I will continue adding more photos and information as time goes by. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you.