General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Cactus/Succulent
Life cycle: Perennial
Suitable Locations: Xeriscapic

Photo courtesy of: Rod Waddington

Glossary Tip - CotyledonGlossary Tip - Cotyledon
March 8, 2013

When the seed of a plant germinates, that first leaf or set of leaves to unfold is called a cotyledon. Cotyledons are developed by the embryo of the seed and are sometimes called seed-leaves. They contain stored food reserves from the seed, used to keep the seedling fed until the next set of leaves, considered the "true leaves," appears. Once the second set of true leaves sprouts, the plant will begin photosynthesis. The cotyledons will wither and disappear soon after the true leaves start to grow.

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Posted by Baja_Costero (Baja California - Zone 11b) on Jan 16, 2019 8:41 PM

This fairly old succulent genus is characterized by opposite leaves on relatively short stems, with terminal inflorescences bearing 5-part flowers that are hanging and tubular. From Southern Africa (10 species from South Africa), up to Arabia.

The common C. orbiculata has a great variety of forms, with different colored and shaped leaves and flowers. It probably accounts for most of the Cotyledons in cultivation. Different forms of that species may also flower at different times of year. The flowers are usually bright orange or red and quite showy. They attract aphids, bees and hummingbirds. This plant is easily propagated from cuttings or leaves. Small seeds; may be self fertile.

A number of genera have been split from the original Cotyledon, which used to have several times more species than it does now. The genus Tylecodon was created in 1978 by Toelken to split a group of similar plants (thus the rearranged name). The two genera have different flowers. Only Tylecodon has summer-deciduous leaves, and the leaves on Tylecodon appear in a spiral arrangement, rather than the opposite arrangement of Cotyledon.

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