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[ Mountain Grass (Kleinia neriifolia) | Posted on October 17, 2017 ]

Large, much-branched succulent shrub with glaucous, sausage-like stems and narrow, summer-deciduous green leaves. Very seasonal growth pattern (winter grower, summer dormant). Probably best suited to mild Mediterranean (winter rainfall) climates. Potentially a large plant in the ground. The amount of branching is variable. A wide-leafed natural form called ovatifolia branches a lot.

Propagate from stem cuttings in fall. Provide strong light for best form and stability. Water regularly (general succulent care) from fall through spring (and summer, in mild climates). Provide good drainage and ample space in containers.

From the Canary Islands, where it may be easily confused with native Euphorbias (but unlike them, does not exude a dangerous sap).

Formerly known as Senecio kleinia.

[ Pachypodium (Pachypodium brevicaule) | Posted on October 17, 2017 ]

The lowest and weirdest of the Pachypodiums, from Madagascar. This caudiciform succulent grows as a fat, low, amorphous blob with spines and deciduous leaves at the growth points. May reach about 3 feet wide in old age, rarely over a third that size in cultivation. Usually yellow flowers, though a white-flowered version (leucoxanthum) does exist. Susceptible to rot on its own roots but much easier and likely a longer lived plant when grafted onto lamerei or geayi. Very seasonal growth pattern.

Not a beginner Pachypodium. Requires warm temperatures, strong light, excellent drainage, and attention to watering. Water more in summer, especially when it's warm, and less in winter. Avoid letting the soil go completely dry.

[ Kudu Lily (Pachypodium saundersii) | Posted on October 6, 2017 ]

Shrubby caudiciform succulent with a fat body and narrow, spreading, spiny branches. Deciduous leaves appear toward the end of the branches. Can be spectacular in old age. White flowers in late summer, tinged with purple/pink. From South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Zimbabwe.

Seasonal growth pattern features a summer growth spurt and winter dormancy, though some leaves may be retained through the winter in mild climates. Water more frequently in summer. Does not like cold (below 45-50°F), wet winters. Potentially a large plant (body to 3 feet wide), and stunted by underpotting. Responds well to pruning. Best form with very strong light (full sun in mild climates).

Formerly known as P. lealii saundersii, and closely related to P. lealii (from Namibia and Angola), a larger shrub or tree with a bottle shaped stem and pubescent leaves.

[ Pachypodium (Pachypodium succulentum) | Posted on October 3, 2017 ]

One of two similar-looking Pachypodiums which grow a buried caudex, often lifted after several years for display. Mature plants can be spectacular. Both species grow skinny above-ground stems as well, armed with spines and bearing leaves toward the end. Easily controlled with pruning. Protect the caudex from direct sun after lifting it to avoid scarring.

Flowers, borne at various times of year, have a pinwheel shape rather than the bell-like shape of P. bispinosum. Otherwise the two species are not easy to tell apart. There are also hybrids with intermediate flowers. Widely distributed in western South Africa, partially overlapping in distribution with P. bispinosum.

One parent of Pachypodium "Arid Lands", a hybrid with P. namaquanum.

The plant formerly known as P. griquense is a small-flowered form of P. succulentum.

[ Pachypodium (Pachypodium bispinosum) | Posted on October 3, 2017 ]

One of two similar-looking Pachypodiums which grow a buried caudex, often lifted after several years for display. Mature plants can be spectacular. Both species grow skinny above-ground stems as well, armed with spines and bearing leaves toward the end. Easily controlled with pruning. Protect the caudex from direct sun after lifting it to avoid scarring.

Flowers, borne at various times of year, are bell-like instead of the pinwheel configuration of P. succulentum. Otherwise the two species are not easy to tell apart. There are also hybrids with intermediate flowers. From the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, overlapping in distribution with P. succulentum (which also grows elsewhere).

[ Bromeliad (Deuterocohnia lorentziana) | Posted on September 16, 2017 ]

Mound-forming, highly branched terrestrial bromeliad comprised of many small rosettes with spiky leaves. Can spread out quite a bit over an extended period and be impressive in old age. Tubular green flowers emerge near the body of the plant. Like a larger cousin of D. brevifolia, which is similar in many aspects. Drought tolerant, easy to propagate, enjoys extreme exposure.

[ Tequila Agave (Agave tequilana) | Posted on August 15, 2017 ]

The classic blue agave used to make tequila, whose production is limited to certain areas of Mexico.

A large plant with straight, erect leaves to 4-6 feet tall, eventually growing the short stem, or "piña", which is harvested for fermentation. Color mostly varies from glaucous blue-gray to gray-green, sometimes with cross banding. Offsets regularly via rhizomes and will form clumps if allowed to do so. May require some overhead protection in the low desert, otherwise thrives in full sun. May be somewhat frost sensitive. Very similar to the related A. angustifolia, which may be difficult to resolve.

[ Wicken's Aloe (Aloe wickensii) | Posted on August 15, 2017 ]

Greenish South African aloe, usually solitary, with a medium sized rosette of incurved leaves and 3-4 branched inflorescences with bicolored flowers (usually red opening to yellow, but sometimes all yellow). Leaves turn grayish green to brown and close in with stress and drought. Closely related to A. pienaarii and A. cryptopoda, may also be confused with A. lutescens.

There has been some discussion as to whether wickensii should be merged with cryptopoda, which has a nonoverlapping range (Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique). Aloe wickensii can be distinguished from cryptopoda by its larger overall size, more highly branched inflorescences, larger and differently shaped floral bracts, and different flower color. It can be distinguished from the related A. lutescens, which also makes bicolored flowers, by its usually solitary habit (lutescens normally offsets), shorter racemes, and brighter yellow flowers.

[ Halfmens (Pachypodium namaquanum) | Posted on June 15, 2017 ]

Slow-growing, spiny pachycaul succulent from the Richtersveld near the border between South Africa and Namibia, which has a very dry winter-rainfall climate. After many years about half the size of a human (thus the common name), a few feet tall in old age. A difficult plant for locations with wet summers (real risk of rot). Requires very strong light (full sun) and excellent drainage. Ideal for dry Mediterranean-type climates with mild winters. Watering schedule is best determined by the growth status of the plant at any given time (water more often when in leaf). May experience extended dormancy, especially during summer.

[ Euphorbia (Euphorbia decepta) | Posted on June 15, 2017 ]

Small South African medusoid Euphorbia with short arms. Has apparently absorbed the recently (1996) described E. astrophora, a diminutive plant with persistent peduncles, though the Kew plant list disagrees.

[ Euphorbia (Euphorbia genoudiana) | Posted on June 15, 2017 ]

Small, slow-growing, spiny succulent from SW Madagascar (to 10 inches or so) with branching stems and narrow leaves which usually fall during winter. Like a miniature crown of thorns with skinny leaves. Cyathia are distinctive, with 2-fold symmetry, featuring yellow/orange/red nectar glands between green/yellow cyathophylls. May be grown from cuttings but best form only from seed, which is not particularly difficult. Reduce watering frequency during winter rest period but plants enjoy water year round in mild climates.

[ Pachypodium | Posted on June 15, 2017 ]

This genus of caudiciform succulents, native to southern Africa and Madagascar, includes trees (lamerei, geayi, decaryi, rutenbergianum), shrubs (saundersii), low-growing plants (brevicaule, eburneum), and geophytes (suculentum, bispinosum), plus sub-shrubs. Flowers are usually white or yellow (rarely red or purplish) and fruit is a two-horned pod which breaks open when ripe to release seeds with dandelion-like parachutes. These plants prefer excellent drainage, abundant water in summer during the active growth season (except namaquanum which typically is more of a winter grower), and lots of sun. Water much less often during dormancy or when plants are losing their leaves. Risk of rot due to overwatering at this time. Most species are not frost tolerant. Plants in marginal climates will be particularly sensitive to excess moisture during winter.

[ Pig's Ear (Cotyledon orbiculata) | Posted on June 9, 2017 ]

Variable South African succulent, usually with powder-dusted grayish leaves and orange-red flowers that hang in clusters like little bells. Leaves have a reddish rim or tip. Plant tends to spread out and grow sideways when given space in the ground. Some plants are green, without the powder. Some plants flower in the winter, others flower in the summer. Some variants make narrow leaves, most make wide leaves.

[ Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) | Posted on June 8, 2017 ]

Most crown of thorns in cultivation, especially those with extra large flowers, are not the species E. milii but hybrids (for example with E. lophogona). These hybrids can be quite diverse in form and flower color, and some people collect them for this reason. Provide good drainage and regular water. These plants, from Madagascar, enjoy more water than most succulents, especially in containers, but can be quite drought tolerant, especially in the ground. Easy to start from rooted cuttings. May attract bees. May branch at the base and/or along stems higher up (depends on the variety). Many/most crown of thorns flower year round in mild climates.

[ Aeonium (Aeonium simsii) | Posted on June 6, 2017 ]

Unusual, attractive Aeonium with thin green leaves, easily distinguished by its marginal hairs. The only species which flowers laterally instead of terminally, so rosettes live on after flowering. A higher elevation species in habitat. Drought resistant and frost tolerant. Marked summer dormancy. One parent of the hybrid "Cabernet" (along with "Zwartkop").

[ Suzanne's Spurge (Euphorbia susannae) | Posted on June 4, 2017 ]

Spineless South African succulent from the Little Karoo. May grow nearly flat to the ground or form a mound of dozens of small knobby green heads. Usually branches heavily, and can be impressive in old age. Plants are male or female. Fall cyathia are small and greenish or brown. Provide excellent drainage and strong light in cultivation. With proper care a long lived container plant.

[ Aeonium 'Jack Catlin' | Posted on June 4, 2017 ]

Pretty reddish Aeonium hybrid. More vigorous sister seedling of "Zwartkin" which was bred by Jack Catlin and named posthumously in his honor. Parentage is Zwartkop x tabuliforme. Released as ISI 2009-10.

[ Aeonium 'Blushing Beauty' | Posted on June 4, 2017 ]

Bushy, low-growing Aeonium hybrid with many rosettes to about 6-8 inches each in a hemispherical mound about 2-3 feet wide. Green color with red accents (the "blushing" part) in late spring/early summer. This Catlin hybrid is Zwartkop x canariense and lives for a long time in the garden due to the prolific branching. Released as ISI 92-27.

[ Aeonium 'Cyclops' | Posted on June 4, 2017 ]

Very large purple-leaved Aeonium hybrid which grows to 3-4 feet tall plus flowers and usually branches. Parentage is "Zwartkop" x undulatum, sister seedling to "Voodoo", bred by Jack Catlin. Best color in full sun. Released as ISI 95-11.

[ Purple Crest Aeonium (Aeonium arboreum 'Zwartkop') | Posted on June 4, 2017 ]

Distinctively dark purple-leaved Aeonium cultivar which branches and can grow to 3 feet tall or so, plus flowers. Best color in full sun. This plant, whose name means "black head" in Dutch, is a parent of various outstanding hybrids bred and selected by Jack Catlin, including "Cyclops" and "Voodoo" (with undulatum); "Zwartkin" and "Jack Catlin" (with tabuliforme); "Blushing Beauty", "Plum Purdy" and "Velour" (with canariense). "Zwartkop" is also a parent of "Cabernet" (with simsii).

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