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Variegation in Clivia


Types and special requirements

New Addition: Growing Variegates from seed (bottom of page)


There are quite a few different types of Variegation. We will be trying to make the differences between them clear to you, and point out some of the pitfalls to growing variegated plants.

Let's start with the most basic type of Variegation.

Shima Fu Variegation

Shima Literally means "Stripe" and Shima fu is comprised of any plant that has continuous bands of green and cream color running down the leaf. All of these examples are "Shima Fu"





The Chinese have taken to counting the number of green colors on each leaf, Some have shown as many as 7 shades of green. Barry is far better at categorizing this type of variegation than I and I will post a photo of a 5 color when next we get one :)

However, one must know a few things. First, ALL Shima fu are affected by the amount of light they recieve and will become a bit lighter or darker depending on the light. Are your plants white areas closer to a yellow than a cream? Too much light. Are the leaves coming out light and dark green? Too much light.

The more white your plant is showing, the harder the plant will be to keep. Although a bold variegation might be preferable to the eye it might be very finicky about how much light it is willing to take without burning. Just remember that when buying these.   

Mandarin Duck or Genpei Fu Variegation

These 2 Variegates are 50/50 variegation in the leaf. These can be very pretty to look at. Here are  some examples of Duck:

Ducks have an all white and an all green side:


This form of variegation is thought to be stable and continous through adulthood. Quality is judged on leaf width, on how close to 50/50 the plant is, etc.

Genpei means the exact same thing, however many use it to describe a 50/50 variegation that looks more like this:


See how one side is green and the other looks like a shima fu? That is the 2nd form of Genpei. This example has striping on both sides but a very distinct difference in coloration between the sides. When we call something a "Genpei Duck" this is what we are talking about. 

Personally, I like both. We have both in our collection. There has been statements made that the 2nd form will over time become just a shima fu, however I have seen plants with 16 and 20 leaves that are still stable. (I have also seen unstable ones) Please however consider that when buying.

ALL Duck/Genpei are genetic anomolies. They are NOT something that can be guaranteed from seed at all. Anyone who sells you a "duck" seed and does not mention that gee, Duck is a 1 in 1000 genetic jackpot roll probably made a mistake.

Again, the white parts of the leaves here are very susceptible to burning.

Fukerin Variegation

Fukerin have broad white edges and a green center.


As with the 2nd form of Genpei, these seem to be a bit on the unstable side. In fact I have seen fukerin turn duck and duck turn fukerin. We only have 1 stable Fukerin in our collection. In fact the one shown is NOT the stable one. This was a Genpei at one time! These are also EXTREMELY susceptible to bright sun and you can lose the whole plant to a bright sunny day as both sides of the leaves will burn out.

Again, these are a Jackpot version of Shima Fu. They are NOT something you can purposefully breed for. Buying Fukerin seed may increase your chances...may not.

Naka Fu Variegation

Naka Fu, quite simply, is the polar opposite of Fukerin.




This is not actually a Naka Fu plant, but these 2 leaves on this plant are super close to Naka Fu. To be Naka Fu the entire plant would have to have just a single Broad white stripe down the center. 

Light of Buddha Variegation

A Light of Buddha Variegate has Dark older base leaves and light colored new leaves. It will look like this:

A specimen one with extremely good contrast will look like this:


The Key to LOB is the light to dark coloration. Again, white parts are very susceptible to burn.

Starlight Light of Buddha Variegation

Starlight is a variation on the normal Light of Buddha, it has dots all over the leaves that to some look like "A starry night". Here is a picture.


It is important to note that a single leaf looking like this does not a Starlight make. We lost our photos, and this is the best I can do to show you this type of variegation now. The dots should be slightly smaller and across all leaves. 

Akebono Fu Variegation

Akebonos are somewhat like LOB however in their case they have broad cream stripes on each leaf, and this should continue through to the bottom leaf. These were originally developed in Japan but are now coming out of china as well. Here is a good specimin of Akebono:


Akebono change color based on the temperature they are kept in, and require a cold season to "Akebono" Heres a plant that spent 2 seasons without that  cold period, and we just redid the cold period this past winter:






As you can see, without a cold period the plant did not continue to get its banding. 

We have had, more than once, been sold a LOB as an Akebono. Sometimes, it is very easy to tell the difference between a light of Buddha and an Akebono, sometimes it is not. We have found that if you define ALL plants where the banding does not extend to the base leaves of the plant in some amount as Light of Buddha, you can't go too wrong. Generally if a vendor sells us something and calls it X, we label it as X, but in this case we go the extra mile to try to be correct. You may notice some of our Light of Buddha DO have color going all the way to the base leaves. Why are those LOB and not Akebono? Simple, we either removed or can see that someone else removed the base leaves for some reason.

Another hint is the coloration of the striping. The white area of an akebono is supposed to be "more white" than that of a LOB. However as with all variegates, that changes based on the amount of light the plant recieves and thus is not definitive.

Painted Face Clivia

Although not considered a variegation type, they are often overlooked by collectors. These can be very pretty. Painted face clivia have a crosshatch look caused by their lighter leaf and darker veins. Heres a picture:



Any clivia can be painted face. Darumas, Even ducks can show this within their dark sections. It has been bred into a lot of different varieties by the Chinese. Painted Face is just what happens to a plant when its been given too much light, its the step before Chlorosis. What makes a plant a good "Painted Face" is the evenness and strength of the veining, and how well it presents when taken to that overly lit stage. 

There are other types of variegation such as Akebono Tora Fu, And "Tiger". Tora Fu refers to multiple stripes on a single akebono leaf, which if the stories are true can only be caused by multiple fluctuations in temperature during the growth of the leaf and therefor is not stable. Tiger is actually a genetic defect that is pretty neat looking. My Tiger stopped "Tigering" and I am not really sure these are genetically stable either. Thus, I have no good photo of this variegation type. 



Growing Variegates from Seed

This process is the same as any other seeds, and you can check our seed instructions in the learning center for information on germination.

There are some special things to remember about Variegates from seed.

1: Generally only 33% of the seeds will be variegated, 33% will be green and 33% will be albino.

2: If they are albino, (no green stripes at all) they wont survive past the point where the seed falls off.

3: If they are fully green put them in a darker place for a couple weeks. If you see NO striping at all they probably are going to stay green. If you see no variegation by the 5th leaf they probably wont get any. Sometimes you get a suprise but this is a good rule of thumb.

Variegated seed is the biggest gamble as far as what you get, sometimes it pays off. If you buy Fukerin or Duck seeds make sure you read the description of those above, as they are not genetically stable. Good luck!