Spider plant not growing

How do plants have babies?

By Becca Smithers

Plants are incredible. They can be found in dry, rocky places, they can be over 100 metres tall, they can be eaten, and most importantly they provide the oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere. Plants mostly stay in one place, so how do plants reproduce and have babies? Across the whole of the plant Kingdom, there are two methods of reproduction that plants can do: sexual and asexual.

Sexual reproduction

Sexual reproduction is when a male gamete (sex cell) and a female gamete join to create a zygote (fertilised cell). The zygote will then develop into a seed which will eventually grow into a new plant. Sexual reproduction mostly occurs in plants that produce pollen. Pollen is the male gamete and it needs to come into contact with stigma, a female part of the plant that collects pollen and transfers it down the style to the ovule (female gamete) which gets fertilised. The fertilised ovule will develop into a seed which can be picked up by the wind (e.g. dandelions, sycamore), carried on the fur of animals that brush past the plant, or the seed can be carried in a fruit (e.g. apples, blackberries). Birds and other animals eat the fruit and can help to spread the seeds of the plant one they pass through their digestive system.

The anatomy of a flower. CC-BY- SA ProFlowers.

In the above picture, you can see the stamen and pistil, both male and female parts in the same flower. The male stamen produce the pollen and the female pistil receives the pollen. Flowers with both male and female anatomy are called “perfect flowers”, but you can have flowers that only have the stamen or pistil, creating male (staminate) and female (pistillate) flowers. If these male and female flowers appear on the same plant, or if the plant has perfect flowers, then the plant is referred to as monoecious and can self-fertilise. Other plants are dioecious, meaning that male and female flowers will appear on different individual plants. This can help prevent self-fertilisation and increase the genetic diversity of the plants. Examples of monoecious plants are hazel and oak, and examples of dioecious plants include willow and holly.

How does the pollen of one plant get to another?

Pollinating plants have two methods of spreading their pollen: by the wind, or by pollinators.

Grasses are examples of plants that use the wind to spread their pollen. The wind carries the pollen and because grasses grow close together it is very likely that the pollen will land on the correct grass, but it is still a large gamble. A lot of pollen in lost by the wind so grasses and other wind pollinating plants have to produce a lot of pollen to make up for this. A lot of people suffer from hay fever when wind pollinating plants are trying to reproduce in spring, the excess pollen in the wind can cause an allergic reaction in humans!

Bee covered in pollen

Using pollinators is a safer bet of transferring pollen to the correct plant. Bees, flies, and other insects are good pollinators. They are attracted to the flowers of plants by their colour, smell, and the promise of sugary nectar. Bees will balance on a flower and use their long tongue called a proboscis to get to the nectar at the base of the flower. The nectar is there to tempt the pollinators to stay on the flower long enough to get coated in some pollen. Bees also use pollen as food in their hives so collect some in small pouches on their legs. The pollinators will fly from flower to flower and transfer the pollen as they go. If the pollen is compatible then it can fertilise the ovule.

Asexual reproduction

This type of reproduction is where a plant makes a clone of itself meaning that the new plant will have exactly the same genes as the parent plant. These clones can grow from long, horizontal stems that can either grow below or above ground. Below ground stems are called rhizomes, above ground horizontal stems are called stolons or runners. The clone plants, called plantlets, grow off these stems.

Here are two examples of plants reproducing asexually, the aloe plant and spider plant that live on my desk! The aloe plant is growing plantlets from the soil which shows there is a rhizome producing the new plants. The spider plant has a runner growing plantlets, trailing away from the parent plant.

Aloe plant (left) and spider plant (right) reproducing asexually.

Bulbs and cacti can reproduce asexually through budding where a new plant can grow off the current plant or bulb. In daffodil bulbs and other plants that come back year after year (referred to as “perennial” in gardening terms), new plantlets grow from a bud that has been asexually produced by the original bulb. This happens underground so is difficult to see. Budding in cacti is much clearer as you can see the new cacti plantlet growing from the original parent plant.

Understanding how to grow plants asexually has led to some interesting gardening techniques such as taking plant cuttings where you grow a clone plant from a cutting of the parent.

The ability to reproduce sexually and asexually gives plants a really good chance of surviving and colonising new areas. Sexual reproduction diversifies the gene pool but asexual reproduction guarantees new plants. This reproductive advantage is one reason why plants can be found in almost all environments on Earth.

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This lesson plan focuses on plant life cycle and reproduction. People, animals, and plants are living things because they reproduce babies that are just like them. Seeds are the beginning of a new plant. The seed pops open, a stem emerges, and the plant emerges. That is the beginning of the life cycle of a plant.

When I studied plants with the boys, both of whom have ADHD, there were so many books, and lesson plans, and stuff to cover that it was simply overwhelming. When I broke down the botany lessons into 5 separate goals that made my life a lot easier. Their hyperactive ADHD wasn’t going to be OK with sitting for long so I split the lessons up into fifteen minute sections.

Teaching homeschool science can be difficult but it doesn’t have to be. By using this lesson, which is geared towards children ages 4 – 7 years old, you can learn about plants alongside your child.

These videos, worksheets, online games, and books explores the concept that plants have a life cycle just like animals and people.

As you and your child, or children, enjoy these exercises help them to make the connections and make observations. This would also be a great time to visit a conservatory, public gardens, or even plant your own garden! Let us know how you used this lesson or how you added your own special touch to it in the comments below.

What Happens During the Plant’s Life Cycle

You have seen many seeds and fruits of different plants. Take a look at the seeds of an apple.

  • Does the seed always look like the plant that it will grow up to be?
  • Does the seed look like the fruit it will produce?

Do the seeds of an apple look anything like the seeds of a pear? Yet they both produce sweet tasting fruit. What other seeds have you seen?

As you learn about the basic life cycle of a plant pay close attention to the plants around you. Does it produce a fruit? Is it a fruit that you can, or can’t, eat?

  • Videos
  • Online Games
  • Worksheets
  • Books

— VIDEOS —

This video is about the life cycle of a plant.

This video can be used for older children 7 and up.

“How A Seed Grows” shows how seeds grow with words for you to read along. The sound isn’t great but the book is because it also has a science experiment you can try.

Time lapse of a plant growing

Just for fun – a literary connection!

— ONLINE GAMES —

  1. BBC Bitesize: Garden Guru
  2. BrainPopJrPut the pictures of a plant’s life cycle in order.

— WORKSHEETS —

  1. Education.com: Print the cards and arrange the stages of plant life in the correct order.
  2. BBC Bitesize: has a dandelion life cycle worksheet. It will automatically download to your computer when you click. Cut out the different stages of the life cycle of a dandelion then paste them in the right order.

— BOOKS —

(I am an Amazon affiliate. Should you purchase these books I get a small commission at no cost to you.)

  1. The Oak Inside the Acorn
  2. Jack’s Garden
  3. Carson Dellosa The Life Cycle of a Plant Chart (6358)
  4. From Seed to Plant
  5. OLIVIA Plants a Garden (Olivia TV Tie-in)

This is part 3 of a 5 part series “Botany for Beginners“.

Have you see our “Science: Botany For Beginners” Pinterest board?

Spider Plant Problems: Tips For Getting Spiderettes On Plants

Most interior gardeners are familiar with the charismatic spider plant. This classic houseplant produces numerous dangling clusters of leaves, resembling parachuting baby spiders. If you find your spider plant not producing babies like these, it might simply be due to the young age of the plant or cultural issues such as lighting. Don’t despair, as these types of spider plant problems won’t affect the overall health of the plant and can often be corrected with some simple tips.

Chlorophytum comosum is one of the most shared houseplants due to the offsets it produces, which can be culled from the parent plant and started as separate spider plants. The attractive hanging offsets, or babies, occur when a mature plant is in the right conditions. The comment that “my spider plant has no babies” is a common theme in garden blogs. We will investigate possible reasons for this condition and some easy solutions to get your plant producing these aerial growths with whimsical appeal.

Age and No Babies on Spider Plants

It’s awkward to use the tale of the birds and the bees in mammalian relations to describe plant life cycles, but useful at the same time. Spider plants need to be old enough to have these spider-like growths. What age is appropriate for getting spiderettes on plants?

Just as a mammal needs to be mature enough for reproduction, so too, must a plant. A newly sprouted seed of any type cannot be expected to produce fruit, seeds, reproductive vegetative growth or flowers. An offset that you have recently potted up should be considered a baby plant. It needs time to send out a rich network of roots and establish itself in its environment.

That being said, there is no definitive time for getting spiderettes on plants. It can take years even in the best conditions and the best advice is patience.

Why is a Mature Spider Plant Not Producing Babies?

In the absence of an age issue, if it is several years old and you still see no babies on spider plant, you may want to examine the conditions in which it is growing.

Spider plants produce those offsets from runners. These are aerial in a hanging basket which then suspend from the parent. Many plants reproduce vegetatively in this manner. Vinca is one plant that comes to mind. It sends out stolons, or runners, which root at the internodes and create carbon copies of the parent. Each can be divided away from the mature plant and become stand along representatives of the species. If no runners are present, then the foliar spiderettes cannot develop.

It seems to be the opinion in many online forums that a spider plant needs to be root bound to form these offsets. A tightly planted container may be the key to a spider plant not producing babies. Make sure you ensure good drainage too, or root rot may become a problem.

Other Spider Plant Problems That Prevent Babies

Just as humans and other animals need appropriate food, water and living conditions to grow and flourish, spider plants have their own specialized environmental needs. Should my spider plant have no babies, I would first turn my attention to these circumstances.

  • Chlorophytum comosum is an herbaceous flowering perennial native to parts of Africa. It requires light but should not receive bright direct sunlight.
  • Spider plants need to be evenly moist and do not tolerate dry conditions. They may be offended by high concentrations of fluoride and other chemicals in drinking water, so try rain or distilled water to irrigate your plant.
  • Temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18-23 C.) will promote flowering and enhance the chance of runners and babies forming.
  • Spider plants are heavy feeders. Use a good liquid houseplant food from spring to summer every two weeks.

Spider plants are one of the easiest indoor plants to care for and should thrive with proper light, food and water.

Plant of the Week: Spider Plant (Airplane Plant)

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture does not promote, support or recommend plants featured in “Plant of the Week.” Please consult your local Extension office for plants suitable for your region.

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Spider Plant, Airplane Plant
Latin: Chlorophytum comosum

If you adhere to the Hindu notion that all life is a continuum and that the most lowly bug could possibly be an ancestor reborn, then it seems likely that Spider Plant was a cat in a previous life. They have nine lives and when you leave them alone for a while in the dark they fool around and make babies.

Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) is a member of the lily family that produces a cluster of foot-long leaves from a crown of fleshy roots. The Victorians called it “ribbon plant,” because of its variegated selections. The variegated sort called Vittatum, with a wide central band of white down the center of the leaf, is most common. A variety called Variegatum has a white band down the outer margin of the leaf. Gold variegated forms are also available.

In summer, spider plant produces dime-sized, six-petaled white flowers along sprawling, much-branched scapes that may reach 2 feet long. The flowers are interesting but insignificant.

What makes spider plant unique, is its ability to produce “spiders,” or offsets, if you prefer the horticultural term. These ready-made plants, complete with roots, form at the ends of the flower stem and assorted branches.

These dangling plantlets give rise to the common name as they hang below the parent plant like so many spiders suspended by a stout web. The often heard name of Airplane Plant supposes that the plantlets look like whirling propellers.

Spider plant is of South and West African origin and seems to have been introduced into Europe by the end of the 18th century, most likely by the intrepid plant explorer Carl Peter Thunberg(1743-1828). Thunberg, after whom the flowering vine Thunbergia is named, was a student of Linnaeus who traveled in South Africa during 1772 and ‘ 73 where he collected seeds, bulbs and dried plant specimens for his botanical work. Capetown was a popular resting place for ships heading home from China and passengers often took home souvenir plants on their return voyage just as we take home trinkets from our travels.

Spider plant is first and foremost a hanging basket plant. It became popular as such during the Victorian period when decorative foliage plants adorned the parlor of all the finest homes. Flower scapes are produced in the summer with plantlets forming on those stems as the days get shorter in the fall. Of late, spider plant has enjoyed some use as a summer bedding plant where it is used like an annual liriope for edging flower beds.

While spider plants are almost indestructible as a houseplant, they sometimes look a bit tattered and torn. The most common problem is tip burn on the leaves. This is caused by the accumulation of fluoride ions in the tissue until it reaches toxic levels. Affected plants can be cleaned up by trimming the burned tips off with scissors. Unless preventative steps are taken the problem will return.

Plants of the lily family are especially sensitive to high fluoride levels and often show this kind of tip dieback. The fluoride can come from low-grade fertilizer, some vermiculite sources or tap water (for prevention of tooth decay). To remedy the problem, repot the plants in fresh potting soil, fertilize with a high grade liquid fertilizer and, if your community fluoridates its water supply, collect some rain water for this plant.

By: Gerald Klingaman, retired
Extension Horticulturist – Ornamentals
Extension News – February 22, 2002

The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture does not maintain lists of retail outlets where these plants can be purchased. Please check your local nursery or other retail outlets to ask about the availability of these plants for your growing area.

Spider Plant Care: Gardening Tips For Spider Plants

By: Angela Koncz

The spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) is considered one of the most adaptable of houseplants and the easiest to grow. This plant can grow in a wide range of conditions and suffers from few problems, other than brown tips. The spider plant is so named because of its spider-like plants, or spiderettes, which dangle down from the mother plant like spiders on a web. Available in green or variegated varieties, these spiderettes often start out as small white flowers.

Gardening Tips for Spider Plants and General Spider Plant Care

Caring for spider plants is easy. These tough plants tolerate lots of abuse, making them excellent candidates for newbie gardeners or those without a green thumb. Provide them with well-drained soil and bright, indirect light and they will flourish. Water them well but do not allow the plants to become too soggy, which can lead to root rot. In fact, spider plants prefer to dry out some between waterings.

When caring for spider plants, also take into account that they enjoy cooler temperatures — around 55 to 65 F. (13-18 C.). Spider plants can also benefit from occasional pruning, cutting them back to the base.

Since spider plants prefer a semi-potbound environment, repot them only when their large, fleshy roots are highly visible and watering is difficult. Spider plants can be easily propagated as well through division of the mother plant or by planting the small spiderettes.

Spider Plant Spiderettes

As daylight increases in spring, spider plants should begin producing flowers, eventually developing into babies, or spider plant spiderettes. This may not always occur, however, as only mature plants with enough stored energy will produce spiderettes. Spiderettes can be rooted in water or soil, but will generally yield more favorable results and a stronger root system when planted in soil.

Ideally, the best method for rooting spider plant spiderettes is by allowing the plantlet to remain attached to the mother plant. Choose a spiderette and place it in a pot of soil near the mother plant. Keep this well watered and once it roots, you can cut it from the mother plant.

Alternatively, you can cut off one of the plantlets, place it in a pot of soil, and water generously. Place the pot in a ventilated plastic bag and put this in a bright location. Once the spiderette is well rooted, remove from the bag and grow as usual.

Spider Plant Leaves Browning

If you begin to notice spider plant leaves browning, there’s no need for worry. Browning of leaf tips is quite normal and will not harm the plant. This is often the result of fluoride found in water, which causes salt buildup in the soil. It usually helps to periodically leach plants by giving them a thorough watering to flush out excess salts. Be sure to allow the water to drain out and repeat as needed. It may also help to use distilled water or even rainwater on plants instead of that from the kitchen or outside spigot.

The spider plant is one of the most popular indoor plants…and for good reason!

It’s exceptionally easy to grow and has variegated leaves that add a splash of contrast to your home.

Read on for a complete guide on spider plant care and cultivation…and as always, leave any questions in the comments!

Spider Plant Overview

Common Name(s) Spider plant, spider ivy, airplane plant, ribbon plant, hen and chickens
Scientific Name Chlorophytum comosum
Family Asparagaceae
Origin South pacific and south africa
Height Up to 12 inches
Light Full sun
Water Medium
Temperature 65-75°F
Humidity Moderate
Soil Any good potting mix
Fertilizer Use fertilizer every two weeks. dilute it by half
Propagation Put small plantlets in a pot of moist potting soil
Pests Aphids, mealybugs, white flies, spider mites

Spider plants have long blade-like leaves that form from the center of the plant and have pointed tips. The leaves or blades can get up to 3 feet long and resemble blades of grass.

While mostly used in containers or hanging baskets, they can be planted directly in the ground. When planting in the garden or flower bed, they need to be sheltered from direct sunlight.

Spider Plant Varieties

Chlorophytum Comosum

The standard variety is actually all green, though it is the least commonly seen in stores. However, it can be a much healthier plant overall, because it produces much more chlorophyll than any of the variegated types.

Chlorophytum Comosum ‘Variegatum’

The most common type of spider plant is Chlorophytum comosum ‘Variegatum’, featuring a white stripe in the middle of each blade. This is most likely the one that you’ve seen sold in garden centers and nurseries.

Chlorophytum Comosum ‘Reverse Variegatum’

Chlorophytum comosum ‘Reverse Variegatum’ is exactly what the name implies — leaves with white edges and a green center. This is also a very common type sold at nurseries.

Chlorophytum Laxum ‘Zebra’

This type of is called Clorophytum laxum ‘Zebra’ and looks similar to ‘Reverse Variegatum’, save for the edge being a bit more yellow than white.

Hawaiian Spider Plant

Finally, this variety is a combination of all of the types mentioned above. It starts out variegated, but eventually the blades turn green as the plant matures.

When it produces babies, they will also start out variegated and turn green. If you can find this one, definitely get it!

Spider Plant Care

These indoor plants are some of the easiest to care for houseplants that you can grow. They’re tolerant of a wide variety of growing conditions, especially when it comes to light.

If you’re just starting out with houseplants, give the classic all-green variety a try!

Spider plants will grow in almost any lighting conditions except for bright, direct sunlight. They do best when kept in indirect lighting and even grow well in artificial lighting.

Plants that receive at least 12 hours of bright, indirect light per day will produce more offspring. Place them 4-6 feet away from a south-facing window and they’ll perform well. Keep the temperature above 60°F and avoid breeze blowing over your plant.

Water

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Throughout the summer, you should water regularly and keep soil evenly moist. During the winter months, the soil should be allowed to dry out briefly between waterings.

Water the plant weekly on the soil surface and not on the leaves. If you water over the leaves, it will just run off and not soak into the soil. Spider plants also like slightly warm or room temperature water — cold water could damage the roots.

The plant’s long, tuber-like roots store water, but are also the main problem with watering this plant. The roots quickly take up space in the pot and prevent water from soaking through to the center of the roots.

To make sure that the plant receives enough water, you can sit the plant in a sink and allow the water to soak into the plant from the bottom up. Then let the plant drain before rehanging it.

The humidity in most homes is too low during the winter months for a spider plant to thrive. Misting them frequently will help keep them moist, as well as prevent an infestation of spider mites from attacking the plant. You can also try bringing it into the bathroom while you are showering for a humidity boost.

Soil

The perfect soil will be well-draining, but also retain moisture. A good high quality potting soil or soil formulated for african violets will perform well.

Fertilizer

These plants don’t need a lot of fertilizer. It’s best to only feed them several times a month and dilute the feeding solution to half of the recommended strength. During winter months the feeding times can be reduced to once per month.

Repotting Spider Plants

Surprisingly, they do well when they are root-bound in a small pot. Eventually have to be transplanted into a larger pot. For best results, repot them into a pot that is 2″ larger than the current pot. It should have drainage holes and be made of something sturdy — the tuberous roots have been known to burst pots!

The soil moisture can let you know when the plant needs re-potting. If the soil is dry down to 1/2 inch within several days after watering, it’s probably time to re-pot.

Pruning Spider Plants

To keep them looking their best, you can trim leaves in the spring or summer. If you want to keep them under tight control, you should also prune the spiderettes. Letting the babies grow increases the amount of water and fertilizer you’ll need to keep the plant nice and healthy.

Simply cut off leaves at the base of the plant. To prune spiderettes, just cut the longest stems back to the base.

Spider Plant Propagation

Spider plants are easy to propagate. When they flower in the summer, they produce babies right from the flowers! The simplest way to propagate is thus to cut off the babies and plant them into pots.

They can also be rooted in water if you suspend the plant and just let the roots of the baby sit in the water.

Small pots filled with soil can also be set beside the parent plant and the baby secured into the dirt. Once the baby has rooted itself into the soil, cut it away from the parent.

The small stalks that pop up can be planted to grow new plants. As the baby plants form on these stalks, pin them down against soil in a small pot. You can use a toothpick. The roots will begin to grow, which is the time to cut the babies free.

If you are having troubles getting the babies to live, try a little rooting hormone to encourage root growth. As for soil, use a quick draining soil that is aerated quite well.

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Overall, they’re quite a forgiving houseplant — there’s not much that bothers them, pests or otherwise! However, there are still a few issues you can run into when growing these hardy houseplants, so let’s take a look.

Are They Safe for Cats?

It is true that some cats adore eating or pawing at these plants. Evidently, there is good reason for their popularity among felines. They act as a hallucinogenic in a similar way to catnip. Keep them away from the cats by hanging them high and away from other objects.

Growing Problems

Occasionally, the tips of the leaves might brown. This is typically due to either too much sunlight or insufficient humidity. It could also be due to chemicals in the water. Try switching to distilled water and this should solve the problem. Cut off the brown tips as they appear and adjust the light, humidity, or water quality.

Pests

Funnily enough, spider mites are a big problem for the this plant. They attack when the air is warm and dry. To get rid of them, use an insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Repeat every 3-4 days until they stop attacking your plants. You may need to repeat up to three times for full treatment.

Greenflies are known to chomp on the edges of the leaves. Apply insecticidal soap or pyrethrum, then do it again a couple of weeks later. Clip the leaves off at the soil, that show this damage.

Mealybugs are a common houseplant pest and they can attack your plant. The simplest way to get rid of them is to treat them with rubbing alcohol or a systemic insecticidal spray so that the entire plant becomes a mealybug-killer.

Aphids can feed on the sap and quickly destroy a your plant if left unchecked. They often show up in the crevasses of the plant, so be sure to inspect your plant closely for signs of aphids. To treat an aphid infestation, first aggressively rinse your plant with water. Then, treat the plant with cotton swabs of rubbing alcohol to kill the rest of the aphids.

Diseases

The only disease that is a serious problem for spider plants is root rot. Fortunately this is easy to prevent by simply watering your plant correctly. There are two main causes:

    1. You are watering too often.
    2. Your soil isn’t well-draining enough.

Figure out which of these two is the problem, stop doing it, and you shouldn’t have any rot issues in the future.

FAQs and Tips

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Q. How large should I let my spider babies get before I transplant them into soil?

A. You can plant your babies in soil as soon as they’ve begun to develop roots. Eventually the roots will thicken up and become water storage machines, so you don’t need to worry about root development. Just be sure to transplant into a deep pot.

Q. My cat chewed off almost all the leaves of my plant. What should I do?

A. New leaves will grow, they just may take more time as the plant is seriously damaged. Cut all damaged leaves to the base of the plant and put it in bright, indirect light for as much of the day as possible.

Q. My plant feels sticky. What’s happening?

A. If the plants leaves begin to feel sticky it could be a sign that the plant is infested with either scale or aphids. Both of these plant pests secrete a sticky substance.

Q. Is it OK if my spider plant is root-bound?

A. Yes! They like to be root bound and will grow much better if there’s just a little extra room around the roots. Potting a small plant into a large pot can actually kill the plant!

Q. My spider plant has lost its variegation! Is this normal?

A. When a variegated version begins to turn a solid color, it simply requires a bit more sunlight. The variegation will return.

Q. The leaves of my chlorophytum comosum are soft and transparent…is it going to survive?

Cold will turn the leaves transparent and soft. Assuming the roots have not frozen, you can clip off the damaged leaves and let it regrow.

Q. Can I use tap water to water my plant?

A. Some indoor plants can be sensitive to the chlorine found in tap water. Sodium can also damage the plant. If you’d prefer you can water your plant with distilled water, filtered water or allow tap water to sit over night before using it.

The Green Thumbs Behind This Article:
Kevin Espiritu
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