1 Kalanchoe confusion

Kalanchoe confusion.

There is a lot of confusion across the internet between some of the Kalanchoe species with red-edged leaves.
The main problem is separating K. thrysifolia, K. luciae and K. tetraphylla.
Many sites have an incorrect identification and images of the wrong plant.

Possibly to avoid this a lot of species are listed as cultivars without a species name or just as ‘Kalanchoe spp.’
It is said that most plants sold as K. thrysifolia are K. luciae.

Plants of the World Online (Kew) and World Flora Online have:
    Kalanchoe thyrsiflora is an accepted species and the only synonym is Kalanchoe alternans.
    K. tetraphylla, an accepted species with no synonyms.
    K. luciae is an accepted species and the only synonyms are K. albiflora and K. aleuroides.
i.e. they are all separate species.

Kalanchoe tetraphylla is a rare plant in cultivation.
It has a basal rosette of roundish leaves up to 20 cm long with red edges.
Leaves have a serrated edge.
The flowering stems, up to 1.5 m high grow from the leaf axils.
The flowers are whitish, pale yellow or greenish-yellow.

Kalanchoe luciae.
Leaves in the basal rosette are up to 25 cm long.
Mostly obovate or spatula-shaped they have a smooth edge and a white bloom.
Flowering stems are up to around 2 m high.
Flowers in the dense terminal inflorescence are whitish or a pale yellowish green.

Kalanchoe thrysiflora Paddle plant.
The basal rosette has leaves that are around 10 cm long and 5 cm wide.
They are green with red edges and covered in a white bloom.
The usually single flowering stem, 1 to 1.5 m high has a terminal inflorescence.
The dense flowers are deep yellow or orange.
The inflorescence has a white powdery bloom on most parts.
They are uncommon plants in cultivation.

A very quick guide is:


K. thrysifolia

K. luciae

K. tetraphylla

Basal leaves

to c. 10 cm

to c. 25 cm

to c. 15-20 cm

Leaf edge




Leaf colour

thick white bloom then green, +/- red edge

light bloom then green with red edge often all red

green with red edge


Terminal to 1.5 m

Terminal to 2.5 m

Axillary to 1.5 m


Deep yellow or orange

white, pale yellow-green

white, pale yellow-green


whole plant white when young

whole plant may be red

young leaves with glandular hairs