Desert rose succulent Holiday Baking Championship

What’s the “Desert Rose Succulent” on Holiday Baking Championship?

Sorry, Food Network, you got it wrong. The succulents that a Holiday Baking finalist sculpted from frosting are not "desert roses"---that's Adenium obesum. Hers were echeverias. Here's why.

Contestant Aishia Martinez, a finalist on TV Food Network's "Holiday Baking Championship" Season 9, Episode 8, referred to the succulents she fashioned to decorate a chocolate tart as "my favorite succulent, the desert rose." This likely sent thousands of viewers to the Internet to learn more about such stunning plants, which on Aishia's confection resemble thick-leaved, blue-gray roses.

Aishia Martinez (Photo: Food Network)

Aishia Martinez (Photo: Food Network)

Aishia is a creative, competent and likable baker, and the Food Network happens to be my favorite channel. I do hope she and the producers forgive me for correcting a minor error: "desert rose"---which is uncommon because it's tricky to grow---looks entirely different from the decorations she created.

The delicate, trumpet-shaped flowers of Adenium obesum are bright shades of red or pink, never blue-gray. Adeniums form branching shrubs with bulbous trunks, slender green leaves, and five-petalled flowers that resemble plumerias. The plants are native to Southern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, and (sorry, Food Network), happen to be poisonous.

Adenium obesum (desert rose succulent) (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Adenium obesum (desert rose succulent)

What Aishia no doubt meant are different, highly popular succulents that do indeed resemble roses and come in the colors she chose: echeverias. These do not, however, grow in deserts but rather are native to the mountains of Mexico.

There are hundreds of species and cultivars of Echeveria, but two in particular look like Aishia's edible decorations: Echeveria shaviana and Echeveria 'Perle von Nurnberg'.

Echeveria shaviana

Echeveria shaviana (Photo: Mountain Crest Gardens)


Echeveria 'Perle von Nürnberg'

Echeveria 'Perle von Nurnberg' (Photo: Mountain Crest Gardens)


Holiday Baking Championship Desert Rose Succulent tart

Screen shot from Holiday Baking Championship, Season 9 finale

There! Mine may be the only site with the correct info, for those of you who have been searching, searching...and not finding. If so, welcome. You've arrived at the Internet's most comprehensive, non-commercial website dedicated to succulents with an emphasis on design. Feel free to settle in, browse a bit, and leave a comment or question.

And Aishia, if you happen to stop by, please accept my admiration and applause.

P.S. I'm hopeless at baking. 




Related Info on This Site

Floral style succulent arrangement (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Echeveria Info, Photos & Varieties

Echeveria Info, Photos & Varieties How to grow echeverias perfectly, plus an extensive gallery, all ID’d See All Succulent Types Aeonium Agaves Aloes Cactus Crassula Echeveria Euphorbias Ice Plants Kalanchoe Portulacaria Senecio About Echeverias Here you’ll find expert advice to help you grow echeverias perfectly, with a gallery of 150+ beautiful, notable species and cultivars.…

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  1. Cathy Stierhoff on December 20, 2022 at 2:45 pm

    I’d never heard of the Echeveria being called the desert rose. At the same time, while I have heard of a desert rose, until today I didn’t actually know what it was! Thanks for this entry Debra!

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on December 20, 2022 at 6:25 pm

      You’re very welcome, Cathy! Thank you for commenting.

  2. Geneva Benza on December 20, 2022 at 2:48 pm

    Well done! You were I informative as well as entertaining. Geneva Benza

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on December 20, 2022 at 6:25 pm

      Thanks, Geneva. That’s exactly what I aim for, in all that I do.

    • Bertha Duncan on December 20, 2022 at 7:43 pm

      Very diplomatic 😉 and informative! Well done Debra

      • Debra Lee Baldwin on December 21, 2022 at 3:29 pm

        Thank you! I’m glad I managed to hit the right note.

  3. Kate on December 20, 2022 at 3:16 pm

    Ah, ha, I also caught that mistake last night. It looked like an Echeveria to me. While you’re at it, how about correcting Food Network’s other blatant mistakes:
    “Sherbet” has only ONE ‘r’ yet the supposed chefs (Tiffani Faison) and hosts continue to repeatedly call it “sher bert.”
    On the other hand, “turmeric” has TWO ‘r’ consonants but it is repeatedly called “tu meric” (Bobby Flay).
    So, you go girl, sock it to them. They need to be corrected! Gently, of course.

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on December 20, 2022 at 6:28 pm

      Hi Kate — I’m a career journalist, so editing comes naturally to me. But I admit I make mistakes chronically. Like Agave desmettiana…or is it Agave desmetiana? It was named after a Monsieur Desmett. Or was it Desmet? I have it explained to me only to get it confused the next time ’round.

      • Annie Opuda on December 20, 2022 at 7:59 pm

        I suffer similar confusions regularly!😂

  4. Leslie Thomas on December 20, 2022 at 3:31 pm

    I’m the same way, Debra! Especially with a degree in Biology, it’s so hard to ignore errors in botanical names. Don’t even get me started on people capitalizing the species name when writing Genus and species! 🤣 Drives me crazy!

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on December 20, 2022 at 6:33 pm

      Hi Leslie — Errors in nomenclature are more revealing about the writer than a problem for me. What does drive me crazy is when names get changed.

      • Georgina Pace on December 23, 2022 at 11:23 pm

        Very entertaining commentary. I needed this diversion tonight! Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

        • Debra Lee Baldwin on December 24, 2022 at 8:22 am

          Hi Georgina — Same to you! Glad you enjoyed it.

  5. Judith Davies on December 20, 2022 at 3:35 pm

    Hello Debra…your correction was masterfully written…educated and kind.

    Wishing you and yours a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy New Year.

    🎄🎁🎄🎁♥️ Judith

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on December 20, 2022 at 6:34 pm

      Thank you, Judith. That’s what I hoped for.

  6. Linda Garland on December 20, 2022 at 4:38 pm

    A correction that needed to be made. Very tastefully done (no pun intended)!
    I enjoy all the posts you make. As a Master Gardener of Napa County I often refer the public to your Debra Lee Baldwin site, and to your publications. Always great and correct information. So helpful to have verbiage and photos of various succulents/families. As these remarkable plants become more popular, the public needs to know the varieties of plants in their possession so they can grow successfully.
    Thank you for providing a wonderful site, and for sharing all of your knowledge.

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on December 20, 2022 at 6:34 pm

      And thank YOU, Linda, for a lovely comment!

  7. Celest powell on December 20, 2022 at 5:12 pm

    Sorry to hear about your retirement, you contributed so much to our community.

    Enjoy your retirement but keep us updated on your journey

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on December 20, 2022 at 5:40 pm

      Hi Celest — I’ve been “semi-retired” for years. What I do is basically a glorified hobby, which I enjoy very much and don’t intend to stop doing anytime soon!

      • Linda Lamb on December 20, 2022 at 8:46 pm

        I saw this show also and thought hmmmm?!
        Thanks for a well said correction and great
        Love your posts!

        • Debra Lee Baldwin on December 21, 2022 at 3:31 pm

          Thanks Linda! It’s funny, I was sitting there thinking “desert rose…?” It took me a few minutes to connect the dots. And another few minutes to take screen captures and scoot into my office to write the post. I really appreciate how you and others responded.

  8. BJ Veronda on December 20, 2022 at 5:52 pm

    Your comments were wonderful: full of factual information, humility and a good sense of humor.

    Hope you enjoy your semiretirement but I don’t know what I would do without your website. I

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on December 20, 2022 at 6:04 pm

      Thanks, BJ. No worries, I’m not doing anything differently in the foreseeable future, just less of it. My website’s not going anywhere. Glad you find it useful!

  9. BJ Veronda on December 20, 2022 at 5:53 pm

    Your comments were wonderful: full of factual information, humility and a good sense of humor.

    Hope you enjoy your semiretirement but I don’t know what I would do without your website.

  10. Dick Schroeder on December 20, 2022 at 6:17 pm

    I think you did well in correcting the mistake. I didn’t see the show (my wife probably did 😀) I too watch the Food Network and love to cook. I also have several Adeniums, and would certainly have caught the error, well done.

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on December 20, 2022 at 6:35 pm

      Thanks for the validation, Dick!

  11. Matthew Midgett on December 20, 2022 at 9:48 pm

    You are an expert without arrogance; a linguist without pomposity; and always a joy to read (and see)!
    Thank YOU for the correction!

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on December 21, 2022 at 3:31 pm

      Matt, you sweet thing. You’re forever saying things that I’d be honored to have as an epitaph, LOL.

  12. Lisa Hardy on December 20, 2022 at 10:42 pm

    I think your feedback was spot on and well done and respectful. And I love your site! I still remember how quickly you responded when I wrote to ask for first aid for a succulent blown over by the wind with damage to the center. I have continued to collect succulents and even tried my hand at propagating them. I had so much joy gifting them to friends. PLEASE continue to share your knowledge and joy about these wonders, I am slowly re-landscaping my home with succulents and the information and photos have been invaluable.

    Happy Holidays!! Getting ready to order a zygote cactus from my local nursery after I research it on your site!

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on December 21, 2022 at 3:36 pm

      Hi Lisa — Thank you! It gives me joy and purpose to share info, and it’s so very welcome to hear that people like you appreciate it (and want more!) I don’t have much info on zygocactus (Schlumbergera, or Christmas cactus) on my site. This year I considered adding it. Thing is, I don’t grow it myself, so I can’t speak from experience. I need to fix that!

  13. Lea Ann on December 21, 2022 at 6:59 am

    A correction that needed to be made. A journalist is responsible for research and presenting information correctly. The journalist in this case I believe would be the producer. And this would have been an easy research topic. My husband and I are avid long time bird watchers and I corrected a local news station for a photo of a common bird that they were mis-naming. on air. I simply sent an email and received no comment in return. However, the next evening they did correct themselves on air.

    With that said, I love your site and you’ve been so helpful in my amateur succulent collection. I’m in Colorado so my plants are limited to windowsills and I must say they thrive and bring me such pleasure. And thanks to you, I’m also on the lookout for Mark Muradian pottery. I did find a little succulent shop in Los Angeles who names him, but has nothing at this time to buy. I did order other pottery that was simply stunning.

    Again, thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on December 21, 2022 at 3:49 pm

      Hi Lea Ann — You’re welcome! You know, maybe they did Google “desert rose” and found one or two sites that poetically use that term for echeverias. I wonder what the producers or film editors do when a contestant uses a wrong term…must happen all the time. Seems to me they’d just edit it out. After all, it’s too late to correct it, and they have hours of footage to choose from. My husband and I usually show closed captions, and I often think that whoever transcribes them (or whatever auto-transcribe program they use) makes a big difference. During that same episode, if I recall correctly, the word “desert” showed in the captioning as “dessert.” And French sable (sah-bley) cookies were spelled differently, too.

  14. Isabel on December 21, 2022 at 9:04 am

    I’m so glad you pointed out the difference. That show is watched by so many and I can imagine someone going to a nursery and being so confused when searching for a desert rose.
    Thank you so much for all you share, I’ve learned a lot from you!

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on December 21, 2022 at 3:51 pm

      You sweet thing—thanks, Isabel! I’m very happy to hear it. Yeah, there are echeverias for sale by the zillions, but good luck finding adeniums. They’re greenhouse plants, and collectors show off prize specimens at Cactus & Succulent Society Shows, but you almost never see them for sale.

  15. Richard Jimenez on December 21, 2022 at 9:05 am

    Hello Debra Lee,

    I appreciated your thoughtful and concise description regarding the confusion about the name, Desert Rose. I hope the producers and Aishia do not take the correction the wrong way. It’s just that we succulent aficionados try to describe our plants correctly. If I don’t know a succulent (there’s a lot of them!) I usually will say I don’t know and look it up. Cheers from this follower on your eloquent post!

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on December 21, 2022 at 3:59 pm

      Hi Richard — I did feel I needed to tread lightly. Not everyone appreciates being corrected. You know, I’ll bet Aishia felt confident in the term she used…she didn’t hesitate. I suspect she got it from a nursery, and didn’t make it up on the spur of the moment. After all, she had no way of knowing that the challenge was going to involve succulents. I thought it was cool that she was able to fashion recognizable echeverias from icing, regardless what she called them. Other bakers identified the succulents they sculpted for their tarts as cacti and agaves. Aishia was the only one who went for prettier varieties. I’ve made them out of clay, which you’d think would be easy, but isn’t. It’s an art form.

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