Exciting discoveries in the plant world always seem to come from remote mountains in strange and foreign places, such as Canada. It came as a shock to the botanical community when a large and distinctive new caudex-forming succulent plant—Miraculotuberum stopandshopensis—was found right here in the northeastern United States.
Miraculotuberum was first collected in 2008, near Nyack, New York, by famed explorer and succulent plant enthusiast Dr. Don Javranos, seen in this video discussing his find. Little is known about the plant’s habitat, and the exact location is being kept secret. Presumably, M. stopandshopensis grows in a temperate desert environment, although desert conditions are uncommon in suburban New York. The plant exhibits several adaptations to life in an arid climate, including an absence of foliage leaves, and a thick waxy coating to prevent desiccation. The spectacular caudex of Miraculotuberum has a bitter taste and sulfurous smell, which deter herbivory by animals and children.
In cultivation, Miraculotuberum is challenging, and plants frequently fail to establish even under the best conditions. Given its northern range, Miraculotuberum is probably winter-hardy, and might make for an interesting addition to an outdoor cactus and succulent bed. Plants are not yet widely available, though they are offered on eBay, where large specimens imported from New York have sparked bidding wars among growers of caudiciform plants, and sold for thousands of dollars. Ironically, it is rumored that ignorant local people in Miraculotuberum’s native habitat sell specimen-size plants to unscrupulous nurserymen for as little as 19 cents per pound.