When she's not busy speaking truth to power as the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's hobbies are pretty standard millennial fare: She's into skincare, likes cooking with her Instant Pot, and apparently, also enjoys caring for houseplants. Boundary-busting political prodigies — they're just like us!
AOC, a prolific Instagram Stories user, recently shared a picture proclaiming herself a "proud plant mama" on the platform. It makes sense that the champion of the Green New Deal, which calls for stronger environmental policies coupled with laws that would help put an end to income inequality, would have a soft spot for houseplants. And as enthusiasts ourselves, our interest in her plant-owning habits was immediately piqued. What kind of plant does a busy, in-demand congresswoman like Ocasio-Cortez choose to adopt? After all, if she can find time to keep said plant alive and thriving, really, what excuse do the rest of us have?
We asked our resident plant expert Christan Summers, who has advised us on matters like whether or not it's okay to feed your plants La Croix, and how to nurse them back to health when they're dying, to help us identify the one pictured in AOC's story. She tells us it's called a ZZ Plant, also known by its scientific name, Zamioculcas zamiifolia, or the very evocative sobriquet, Zanzibar Gem. While popular on social media, ZZ Plants are a less obvious choice than, say, a succulent or miniature cactus, which may explain why you're not aware of it.
According to the website Gardenista, a NASA study even revealed that ZZ's function as natural air purifiers that help remove toxins. The site also notes that, "Care of ZZ is simple, making it the gold standard for houseplant beginners, preoccupied office workers, and brown thumbs." And, apparently, rising-star politicians who just may be the voice of their (similarly plant-obsessed) generation.