Info

are C barklyi, with cormlike roots; C. debilis; with narrow, lance-shaped leaves, and C radicans, with very long, slender, green-tipped flowers banded with purple and while.

The ceropegias generally require the same culture as the Stapeliads—moderate shade, warmth, and moisture in summer and a cool, dry rest in winter. Climbing species should be trained to a stake or trellis as they grow in summer lest they overtake other plants for support. All members of this tribe are easily propagated by seed, when it is available: by cuttings, which root easily at any season: or tubers, which are freely formed in the suil and along the stems of several species like C. woodii.

Succulents in Other Families

Besides the eight plant families outlined, which are wholly or partly succulent, there are a score or more that eoiuain onl\ a few succulent members. Most of these lesser succulents are rare and little-known plants, but there are a few among them that should be included in all amateur collections.

The Geranium Family—The Geraniaceae. Anyone who has observed the fleshy stems and wonderful resistance to drought of the common garden geranium will not be surprised to find that these plants have several succulent relatives in that vast South African genus Pelargonium (pei-ahr-goh'-m-um). to which they also belong. These genuinely succulent geraniums are quite different from their garden cousins however. Their steins are often greatly thickened and studded with spines. Their leaves are smaller, stand upright on long stalks, and are generally shed during the summer resting season. And their wide-open, two-lipped flowers are exquisite miniatures produced in sparse bunches.

The best-known species is P. echinatum, whose finger-thick, fleshy stems are covered with spinclikc projections which are actually the stipules, or leaflike appendages, at the base of

the fallen leaves. On!y a few of these long-stalked, deciduous leaves are produced each spring with clusters of white flowers that bear two red hearts at the base of the upper petals hence its popular name—Sweetheart Geranium, The remainder of the year this foot-high shrub looks exactly like a little cylindrical cactus.

Equally popular and interesting is P. terragonum. Its spineless four-angled stems make a sprawling three-foot shrub with deciduous leaves and much larger pink fiowers whose two upper petals are conspicuously veined red. Both these species need protection from frost, as well as good drainage and a dry rest in summer when the leaves have fallen* They are easily propagated by seed or cuttings in early spring or summer

The Grape Family—The Vitaceae. Unlike the Geranium family, lush vines and grapes would not ordinarily be expected to have succulents among them, and yet there are five succulent species in the genus Cissus (sis -us) of the Grape family. Three of these are true desert dwellers from Southwest Africa. Two of them thick, barrel-shaped plants two to six feel high with a topknot of deciduous leaves, the other a fleshy tree thirteen feet lalL But these are extremely rare and seldom seen in cultivation.

Much better known are two clambering shrubby species from tropical Africa, ( quadrannularis and C cactiformis. These are both quick-growing climbers with green, four-angled, jointed stems covered with a bluish bloom. They produce a few small grapelike leaves at the joints which disappear during the summer resting period. These plants are certainly more curious than decorative, but ihey are collectors1 items which will lend interest to any collection. They are readily propagated by cuttings and should be given the same culture as some of the Climbing Cacti, epiphyllums, and other jungle-dwelling succulents.

The Portulaca Family—The Portulacaceae. Although all the members of this family, comprising some seventeen genera

other succulent FAMILIES

and two hundred species, are more or less succulent, only a few are recognized or grown as such. Everyone is familiar with the genus Portulaca (por-teu-lah -kah), which gives us that wonderful trailing annua] so Jong used for dry borders and rockeries—the Rose Moss, P. grandiflora. or that common summer weed Purslane. P oleracea, that some curse and others relish as boiled "greens." But we do not ordinarily think of these plants as succulents, reserving that title solely for two South African genera that have gained considerable popularity with succulent collectors.

.'he first of these is the genus A nacampseros (an-a-kamp'-ser-os), which consists of two extremely interesting groups of small plants. The first group forms miniature rosettes of fat, lance-shaped, green leaves with numerous bristly hairs in the leal axils, above which are borne little live-petaled flowers thai look like single roses. Popular species of this type include the Love Plant, A, lanceolaia, with clear pink flowers in late summer, A. tomentosa, with felted white leaves and red flowers; and A. telephiastrum, with brownish-red leaves and deep pink flowers.

The second group of anacampseros consists of plants with numerous short sterna often rising from tuberous roots which bear tiny green leaves completely covered by overlapping, translucent, papery scales. These scales act somewhat like window shades, sheltering the minute, fleshy leaves within from the heat and sunlight. Because of their color and curious clustered form these plants closely resemble heaps of bird droppings, and ii has been suggested that this might be a form of protective mimicry. Unfortunately this group of anacampseros is quite rare and difficult to grow, but the adventurous collector mtgh; try A. papyracea, whose sprawling white branches are about one half inch wide and two inches long, or A. aiuonit, whose slowy while flowers are an inch and a half across, ia marked contrast to the liny, half-concealed yellow flowers of the other species.

Although the first group of anacampseros is easily grown, with moderate watering and light shading in summer and a cool!dry rest in winter; the second group is extremely slow-growine and requires a very sunny position and complete drought in winter. Strangely enough, the flowers in this clan are rather shy in opening—some open for only an hour, others not ai all—so thai in many species the flowers are self-pollinated in the bud. Seed is freely produced, however, and is generally the best method of propagation even if slow, because cuttings can rarely be taken without spoiling the plants.

The other genus in this family which enjoys wide popularity is called Portuiacaria (por-teu-lah-kay'-ree-ah). Its single species. P. afra, forms a large bush or small tree reminiscent of the shrubby crassulas, with small, glossy green leaves attached to fat, mahogany-red stems. It is a favorite food of elephants in South Africa, hence its popular name. Elephant Bush. A striking variegated form, P. afra var. tricolor„ with yellow, cream, pink, and green leaves, is appropriately called the Rainbow Bush. Both these plants are easy and valuable additions to any collection, responding to good soil and ample watering by making a large, wide-spreading specimen in sun or partial shade. Since they rarely show their tiny pink flowers or make seed in cultivation, propagation is entirely by stem cuttings.

The Wandering Jew Family - The Commelinaceae. The Peruvian species, Tradescantia naviculars (trad-es-kan'-ti-ah), is a fascinating succulent relative of the common Wandering Jew, T. fluminensis. Indeed, it somewhat resembles that am.har house plant, but its tough, boat-shaped, gray-green IttYM are so closely set along the stems thai they have suggested the nickname Chain Plant. The prostrate stems root easily wherever they touch the ground and are lopped with three-lipped, rosy-purple flowers. Very closely related to this species is an African member iam.lv, Cyanotis somaiiensis (sy-ah-noh'-tis), which is

0 0

Post a comment