Faucaria ligrina has been given the English name of tiger jaws in deference to its appearance. It is really a mesembryanthe-mum and the daisy-like golden-yellow flowers are produced in the late summer and autumn. Watering should continue until the end of November and the plants should then be rested in a cool greenhouse with a maximum temperature of 7°C (45°F) until they are ready to start into growth again in May. In spite of its vicious appearance the 'spines' or teeth at the edges of the leaves are not sharp at all but very weak and easily broken off.
The leaves are crowded together to form a dense and compact rosette somewhat rhomboidal in section, and the leaf tips are drawn sharply forwards over the inner surface like a chin. Each leaf carries nine or ten teeth curved in towards the centre of the plant and ending in an almost hair-like tip. In a very light position the leaves will turn reddish and there is a special form - F. I. splendens - in which this reddishness is even more conspicuous.
Faucaria tuberculosa has almost tooth-like pimples erupting from the inner surfaces of the leaves but is otherwise similar in most respects to F. ligrina.
Although most faucarias have yellow flowers, F. Candida has white flowers and those of F.felina jamesii and F. laxipetala are tinted pinkish and reddish respectively on the outside of the golden-yellow flowers.
Gasteria verrucosa is a relative of the lily and has a flower that is faintly reminiscent of that plant. It is tolerant of shade which makes it one of the best of all succulents to grow as a house plant and it can be grown alongside cacti in winter with a winter temperature of below 7°C (45°F). Cultivation generally is similar to that of aloes to which it is closely related and it appreciates shade during the summer like Aloe variegata described overleaf. Propagation is best achieved either through leaf cuttings or by means of the numerous offsets, but seeds should not be used if a variety true to type is required since the plants hybridize so readily amongst themselves that it is not always possible to guarantee the purity of a particular strain. Most Gasteria species are very similar to one another when young and at this stage have only opposite leaves; they do not develop the rosette-forming habit until they are older.
Gasteria verrucosa never actually forms a completely round rosette as the leaves continue to be produced opposite one another. The long leaves are faintly wavy and have a pink sheath surrounding the base of the stem which they clasp. The most prominent feature is the mass of small white confluent tubercles that cover all the surfaces of the leaves and give the plant its name.
The exceptional fertility of gasterias has given rise to a number of intergencric hybrids such as x Gastrolea (Gasteria x Aloe) and x Gasterhaworthia (Gasteria x Haworthia). These are now being brought into cultivation.
Haworthia papillosa is also covered with numerous white tubercles but is more obviously rosette forming in character. It does not produce offsets freely but propagation is fairly easy by means of leaf cuttings. The tubercles on the back of the leaves are much more numerous than those on the front and the flowers are produced on a long stem from slightly off-centre.
Similar to H. papillosa is H. margaritifera which is also covered in white tubercles but produces more numerous offsets. There are many varieties of this latter species of which one of the best is undoubtedly H. m. coral-Una'. this species has even more white tubercles, forming an almost white mass near the base of the much more slender leaves.
Haworthia cuspidata. on the other hand, has no tubercles at all. Instead it is of interest because of the almost transparent window-like patches that occur near the tips of the thick, sharply-keeled pale green leaves. The sides of the leaves are very slightly toothed.
One other remarkable haworthia is H. bolusii whose leaf margins are so completely armed with fibrous white teeth that the plant appears to be covered by a dense mat of white bristles. There is an even more bristly variety of this called H. b. aranea.
Aloe aristata is very similar to the white-tubercled haworthias described earlier but the leaves are far less succulent than those of the haworthias. It is a deservedly popular plant on account of its rapid growth and freely suckering habit which quickly enables such large clumps to be built up that people feel obliged to root some of the offsets and give them to friends. A succession of flowers throughout the summer will be produced even on young plants and it will appreciate a little shade if the leaves are not to start turning purple. The reddish tubular flowers are produced on long stems from just off-
The leaves have small cartilage-like teeth down the sides and on the upper surfaces. It is quite normal for the tips of the leaves to go hard and shrivelled and if wished these may be cut off without jeopardizing the plant.
Aloe variegala is a well known species which has acquired [he English name of partridge breasted aloe on account of its distinctive markings. It is a native of South Africa and forms a stemlcss rosette often attaining some height but more normally seen as a fairly squat plant surrounded by dense numbers of offsets or suckers which are produced round the base in great profusion.
The leaves, which are triangular in shape and conspicuously furrowed on the upper surface, are produced in three clear rows, each new leaf arising from the base of the preceding one. They can be nearly 6 in (15 cm) in length and over an inch (2-5 cm) in width on mature specimens. The white banding is given by the regular white spots which are also typical of many other Aloe species, and the somewhat horny edges of the leaves have very small white teeth on them, almost imperceptible to the eye but giving the edge a rough feel when it is stroked. The flowering stem is normally solitary and can attain a considerable height, often rising over a foot (30cm) above the centre of the plant. The flowers, which are rather pendulous, are reddish and tubular and are followed by seeds which germinate readily.
This species dislikes full sunlight which tends to make the plant bodies purplish rather than green and for this reason it does well indoors, especially where the air is very dry. However, it should be kept away from south-facing windowsills and if grown in a greenhouse it should be kept slightly dryer than most other aloes as it tends to rot off 176 fairly readily.
Agaves are not plants for those with little patience or little space. They are commonly known as century plants and have done more to give 'cacti' the reputation of flowering only once every hundred years than anything else. Their slow growth and irregular flowering have been responsible for giving them the name of century plants, and they are familiar to many of us as the plants which produce telegraph-pole flower stems round the shores of the Mediterranean.
Agave americana is a typical species and one which is fairly readily obtained. Its grey-green leaves can attain a length of several feet and have a sharp spine at the end. There are many varieties, notably A. a. marginala which has magnificent broad stripes of white or cream up the edges of the sharply toothed leaves. There is also a variety, A. a. medio picla, which has a pale stripe down the centre of the leaf.
The variegated forms of A. americana are frequently confused with Furcraea selloa marginala, a native of Colombia. However, this latter species forms a stem up to 3 ft (1 m) in height as it grows older whereas the rosettes of Agave americana are always stemless. The leaves are very much narrower than those of A. americana which are normally over 4in (10cm) wide on mature plants, even at the narrower part, while those of Furcraea selloa are only this size at the widest point.
Crassula socialis makes an excellent plant for the smaller collection and docs well in a shallow pottery bowl which allows it to sprawl around. The stemless rosettes form dense branching mats whose individual plantlets are seldom more than half an inch (1 cm) in diameter. The light green leaves are triangular in shape, stemless. and furrowed a little on the upper surface with rather horny edges. The flowers, which are produced in February, and quite freely even on young plants, are borne on short slender stems at the top of the rosette.
Rather similar in appearance are C. columnaris and C. teres, although these are both very much more upright than the illustrated species. The leaves of C. teres are so tightly folded into the stem as to form a practically continuous surface, while those of C'. columnaris have a terminal head of flowers buried amongst the upper leaves, which are far more prominent than those of the preceding species.
Sempervivums are well known in Britain as houseleeks and make excellent plants with which the succulent collector can carry his interest into the garden. They are generally hardy species and can be grown easily and well on a rock garden. They are extremely variable in form, much depending on the type of soil on which they are grown. The English species is Sempervivum leclorum.
Several species are offered by alpine nurseries, one of the most attractive being S. arachnoidal»! in which the tips of the leaves develop long white bristles which become interwoven at the top of the plant giving it the appearance of being covered in a spider's web. Although quite hardy in Britain it is a native of the Alps and Pyrenees. S.soboliferum (now more correctly called Jovibarba sobolifera) is unusual in that it produces its numerous offsets between the leaves as well as round the base of the plant.
While the sempervivums are broadly European in distribution Orostachys is a more Asian plant. Although hardy in most parts it makes a good pot plant, being slower growing than the sempervivums and therefore doing better than them in a pot. The most commonly seen is O. spinosus distributed from the Southern Urals to Japan and forming a rosette whose outer leaves are loosely arranged in a circle round the inner, densely packed leaves. The flowers of O. spinosus are greenish yellow and as the plants are only biennials it is best to save the seed. O. thyrsiflorus is a less common species with white flowers occasionally tinged with pink.
Some echeveria are mentioned in the following section of stemmed succulents other than cacti, but many echeverias form rosettes similar to sempervivums and these are illustrated on this and the following
Echeveria carnicolor is a native of Mexico and forms dense clumps with numerous offsets, the individual rosettes being between 3 and 4 in (8 and 10 cm) in diameter and being made up of spatulate or spade-shaped leaves whose upper surfaces are Rat but whose lower ones are slightly keeled. The leaves are purplish pink in colour, almost flesh coloured, and have a slightly frosted appearance. Malathion should not be used with this species as it may damage this pruinose covering as it does with many other greyish members of the Crassula family. The flowers are orange-red. slightly tubular and are produced on stems about 6in (IScm) tall rising from just off the centre of the plant between January and March.
When potting up a cutting or repotting an existing plant try and incorporate either some sedge peat into the compost or some sterilized leafmould as this species enjoys a rather richer soil than most succulents.
Like the preceding species E. derenbergii is a native of Mexico and is usually stemless although some forms may produce a rather insignificent stem. The leaves are light green in colour with a fairly dense frosting on the upper and lower surfaces which means that the use of malathion should be avoided. The flower stems are shorter than those of the previous species and the leaves are tinged with red on the margins. Bccausc of its very free-flowering habit this species has been cultivated for some time. It has also attracted the attention of hybridists who have sought to bring to the plant additional charms by crossing it with E. setosa illustrated on the next page. The hybrids between them are known as E. x derosa. These have a rather more domed effect being less like a saucer than the illustrated species, and have a light covering of hair rather than the frosted appearance of the true species.
The hybrids are even more free flowering than the type and for this reason are more widely cultivated, making it worthwhile to check the surfaces of the leaf and examine critically the shape of the rosette if the true species is desired.
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