Most Neofinetia have a very standard shape and color, but there exist some flower forms that are so outrageous it is hard to believe they are actually the pure species. I remember vividly seeing Seikai for the first time years ago and thinking, “I wonder what that is crossed with?” A few couple later I was find out that this form was indeed a pure Neofinetia, not a hybrid at all. While the debate about the purity of some forms rages on, the natural variability this species exhibits remains remarkable. Perhaps no other group of fuukiran exemplifies this variety, both in breadth and form, than the odd shaped flower types.
Odd flower forms can range in size as well with plants like Seikai, Unkai, and Shunkyuuden sporting abnormally large flowers while others are diminutive such as Kisshukouryuu. Still others have extra spurs, no spurs, flowers that don’t fully open, flowers that face directly upward, and so on. Some even are highly colored such as the prized Benikanzashi. Many are rare and therefore valuable. Here’s a taste.
One of the most choice fuukiran is Seikai since it is so different from most that at first glance it is hard to believe it is a pure Neofinetia falcata at all. It is a “bean-leaf” type, but the leaves have a lovely arch to them, hence its name which means “ocean wave”. Like other bean leaf forms they are very succulent. The flowers too are just amazing, much larger than an average flower, pink, with upturned flower parts and a straight spur pointing in a downward direction. It remains fairly expensive since it cannot be reproduced through mericlones or seed, but only by division. Slow growing, but not difficult, this one belongs in every serious fuukiran collection.
A close cousin to Seikai is Unkai , but honestly it cannot hold a candle to its fairer friend. The flowers have a very similar shape as well, but tend to be paler. It too is a “bean-leaf” type, however the leaves are much less curved. It is a faster grower than Seikai, forming very nice clumps quickly and when in flower it really is a great looking plant. Care needs to be taken when watering both of these since direct watering can make the buds blast.
A really bizarre flower is Shunkyuden. It has many more flower parts than is normal and they grow in all manner of directions – they are difficult to explain, so I’ll let the photo speak for itself. Variability of their form is high, with no two looking quite alike, even year to year. It tends to be late flowering, often into late July. A bit slow to form clumps, but not difficult, and also quite expensive. Unfortunately, the flowers are completely sterile.
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