The Snake Plant, or Sanseviera: a tall, rigid plant whose horizontal patterning on the leaves would make it appear to be moving at a quick pace. Along the side are vertical light green stripes that provide a bright, perhaps dangerous looking form. The plant has been referred to as a tiger’s tale, when a snake plant is large and healthy, it will look like a bouquet of snakes, or swords rising up from the dirt. There are many variations, but this, the Futura Superba, a dwarf version, was the one I chose in haste at my local flower shop.
Through their hearty leaves, they are resilient whether placed in sun or shade. Prevalent just below the equator, in Brazil, and West Africa, the plants are not to be watered for a minimum of two weeks. This lengthened the regular watering cycle for most of my plants that now live on a weeklong rotation. The plants are used to dry temperatures, or irregular weather conditions, which leads to the thick skin, similar to a jade in chemistry, but more like pineapple in shape.
The plant is also known as ‘mother-in-law’s tongue,’ (every variations of the plant has this name, having utilized my new membership to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden over the winter and becoming familiar with these plants in the tropical greenhouse.) The name irritates me. I know that a good number of people bought Wicca books when they were 10, 11, 12. But that doesn’t mean that a feminine severity should be all in relation to marriage. That’s sexist. I digress.
Despite their severe form, snake plants are useful for filtering air. They are encouraged to be used in the bedroom because they take in carbon dioxide during the night. Plants often grow at night. While the plant photosynthesizes, a transmission of carbon dioxide and water into nutrients for the plant, a plant will emit more carbon dioxide overnight than it absorbs. But the snake plant is part of a family of plants, including the orchid, the pineapple, and the jade plant, among other succulents, that use a form of photosynthesis known as Crassulacean Acid Metabolism. This form of photorespiration, contrary, to other plants, emits some carbon dioxide during the day and takes it in at night. The work/life of a youthful New Yorker is one where a room is a calm nest. A place to rest. A place for night.
Use your houseplants for good.