tribe of the Crassulaceae only two are commonly grown—the genus called Crassuta and the genus Rochea (ro'-she-ah)— both natives of South Africa. These are usually small- to medium-sized plants with fleshy, opposing leaves arranged in such a way that each pair forms a cross in relation 10 its neighbors. Sometimes these leaves are closely packed on the stems, sometimes spaced well apart. The flowers are rather small, but occasionally very bright and forming large clusters.
Although the genus Crassida contains more than two hundred species, with a bewildering variety of forms and habits, u may be divided into two fairly distinct groups. The first consists of plants with visible branching stems that form good-sized shrubs, the other very small, low plants with the stem virtually hidden by the closely packed leaves,
Of the shrubby species the largest and best known is undoubtedly the Jade Plant, C argeniea, whose bright green rubbery leaves and dainty pink winter flowers make it one of the most familiar and widely grown succulenls in the world, A variegated form of this species, with the leaves striped pink, cream, and green, is popularly known as the Tricolor Jade Plant, In mild climates the Jade Plant almost becomes li small tree, just as the popular C. arborescens, another large shrubby species with beautiful silvery leaves heavily dotted and margined with red. A much smaller shrub, though nearly as much grown, is C. tetragona, the so-called Midget Pine Tree, with short, dark green, pointed leaves arranged in four rows on stiff, upright stems- But none of these shrubby species can match the brilliant blooms of C falcata, whose large trusses of scarlet flowers have given it the name Scarlet Paint Brush; and whose curiously twisted, silvery, two-ranked leaves have been dubbed Aeroplane Propellers One other small, shrubby species especially noteworthy for its curious foliage is G perforata, whose opposing pairs of leaves are joined together at the base, and so ¡look as it threaded on the stems, hence its popular name String of Buttons.
Among the low-growing species no collection should miss the Silver Dollar, C. hemisphaerica, a small, perfectly round plant whose closely overlapping green leaves always attract attention* Neither should one overlook the jewel-like St. Andrew's Cross, C iriebneri, whose pale yellow-green leaves form a perfect cross, beautifully flushed and doited with red in winter. Then, too, there are several small species with fiat, wedge-shaped leaves so closely packed together that they seem laminated, such as the difficult but amazing Pyramid Crassula, G pyramidalis. and ihe very easy, mosslike Elephant Grass. C. iycopodioides. And. finally, one must include the sirange Rattlesnake Crassu;a. C teres, whose incurved leaves form a tightly packed column like the overlapping plates in a rattlesnake's rattle, but are lopped with a tuft of wonderfully fragrant white blossoms.
Of course no brief list can do justice to (he hundreds of splendid and familiar plants this genus contains What better ground cover or basket plants could one find than the de-Iigh:ful winter- and spring-blooming G lactea and G rnulti-cava? What nicer pot plants than the chubby white Silver Beads. C. deltoidea. or the ruddy C just'i-lordcruyi? What greaic! novtiiy than the densely bearded C. barbaia, whose liny globular form and dense hairs make il look so much like a lilllc woolly cactus? The list is endless.
In marked contrast to the varied and interesting cfassulas. plants in the genus Rochea are neither very succulent nor striking but they do have magnificent flowers. The thin, closely packed leaves and erect stems form small, shrubby plants a foot or two high thai are topped with large clusters of outstandingly beautiful flowers ranging from while through v el low, pink, and red. One species with scarlet flowers. R coccinea, is perhaps the best known of all flowering succulents as it has been grown extensively by florists for the house-plant trade.
Seeds or stem cuttings are started in spring, and the plants
Was this article helpful?