G to H Expanded - Cactus Club

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G to H Expanded

Plant of the Month > Species G to H

Gasteria batesiana is a good sized member of the genus, with a rosette of highly succulent leaves. The entire plant can exceed a foot in diameter. The leaves are up to about 2 inches wide at the leaf bases and are approximately 1/2 inch thick on my plant. Leaf color varies, and is often dependent upon light intensity and other growing conditions: leaves are typically dark green, but when grown in particularly bright light, will produce gold/bronze to brick-red tones. The reddish tones are most pronounced on older leaves. While photographs of some plants on the internet show silvery banding, the leaves on my plant are barely marked, with new leaves appearing unmarked. Unlike many Gasterias, which produce their leaves in two closely stacked ranks, the leaves of this plant are produced in spirals. The leaves of this species are remarkably textured with minute pebbly outgrowths, giving the leaves (both top and bottom surfaces), a very rough texture, earning this plant the common name of "Sandpaper Gasteria".

Gasteria glomerata is a rather curious species, - it is atypical in that its leaves are not warted, and do not produce the whitish raised bumps which are typical of other species of this genus, instead, plants produce virtually monochromatic leaves which are minutely reticulated, to produce somewhat roughened surfaces. The leaves are highly succulent, rigid, and are very nearly round in cross section. The leaves on my plant have a shape reminiscent of small sausage links, although I have seen photographs of other plants with somewhat shorter leaves. As a younger plant, my own plant produced somewhat shorter leaves, but as it matured, its leaves tended to grow somewhat longer. It is highly prolific, producing multiple offsets practically from the outset: today, my plant probably has several dozen plantlets. Even so, my plant remains fairly compact, and after 3 or 4 years of growth, it fits comfortably in a 12 inch bowl with room to spare. As with most gasterias the rate of growth of this species is rather slow, with each plantlet adding about 1, 2, or 3 leaves each season, and the clump widening about an inch or so with each year's additional offsets.

Gymnocalycium bruchii is native to the province of Cordoba, Argentina, where it occurs at elevations from 1600 to abut 6500 feet. It is a miniature plant, producing stems to about 1.5 inches tall and to about 2.5 inches in diameter (although the plants which I have grown tended to have smaller stems - to about 1.25 inches in diameter). Each stem has about 12 shallow ribs, and unlike the greater number of Gymnocalycium species, does not produce the characteristic chin-shaped tubercles. The plants produce tufts of many clustering stems. In the plants which I have grown, these eventually amounted to several dozen stems, although I suspect that in venerable old specimens, these clusters will eventually proliferate to several hundred stems (the plant illustrated here has over 40 stems, and fits comfortably in a 4 inch pot). The spines are quite small, and bristle-like: spines typically emerge white or translucent, but will soon age to a more grayish coloration. Spine clusters typically have 2 or 3 short centrals, and about 12 re-curved radials, which practically lay against the stems surface: the illustrated spine cluster has no central spines....

Haemanthus albiflos is an attractive South African species which has a wide appeal. In regions with a Mediterranean climate, it is a popular garden plant; in other regions (with hard freezes and extended cold in the winter months), it is regarded as a pot plant. It is grown for its distinctive "shaving brush" inflorescence consisting of multiple small flowers with short, narrow white petals and long white filaments topped with anthers which produce golden pollen. The flowers may be followed by fleshy berries, which will ripen to an orange to scarlet color. The bulbs grow at the surface of the ground, or half exposed. These are green and bear the leaf scars from the leaves of previous years. In time, the plants will offset, producing clumps with 10 or more bulbs. These are evergreen plants, retaining their leaves throughout the year (unlike many other bulb plants from the same region, which shed their leaves seasonally). Every year, each bulb produces only two new leaves. In my experience, the leaves from the previous year are retained until the current year's leaves are established, at which point the older leaves begin to die back; but this plant can retain leaves longer still, and bulbs may have as many as 3 pairs of leaves at once. The leaves of older, well established plants can grow to about 16 inches in length, and to about 3 inches or so in width, but on my plants, the leaves are smaller, averaging about 5 inches long and 2 to 2.5 inches wide The leaf margins bear "peach fuzz" fibers, but some populations may produce leaves which are uniformly "fuzzy" across their surfaces.

Haworthia cooperi is a fast growing, clustering species with soft, fleshy foliage (the leaves have the feel of tiny, plump grapes). The species originates from the summer rainfall areas of Sumerset East, Cape Province, South Africa. It is closely related to Haworthia cymbiformis, H. mucornata , and H. marumiana, and, according to Wikipedia, it can be distinguished from these species by "...the slight bristley "awn" on the margins of the leaves of most varieties". Another interesting trait is the presence of an extremely fine filament at the leaf tips (a trait which is barely visible in this extreme closeup – other varieties show a more prevalent filament). Variety truncata is a generally smaller plant, my plant is just over in inch across, and may possible grow to a diameter of 2 inches, with shorter foliage, and more rounded leaf tips. This is a comparatively fast growing plant, adding additional leaves to each rosette annually. While it clusters, it adds additional offsets slowly, gradually increasing its size to fill a 3 to 4 inch pot.

 Haworthia glauca is widely distributed from the central to western portions of the Eastern Cape region. It typically grows fully exposed or under only slightly shaded situations on rocky slopes in habitat. Most of the plants of the species produce smooth leaves to slightly tuberculate leaves; in variety herrei, the leaves are typically more conspicuously tuberculate as can be seen in this image (this trait is not evident in my plant). The leaves are quite rigid, and end in a sharp tip, making plants of this species one of the very few of the Haworthias which can be described as “prickly”. Even without the typical ornamentation of windowed leaf tips, tubercles, etc. this is an attractive species, with glaucous grey to bluish foliage produced in tight spirals on stems which may grow to nearly 10 inches tall. Plants typically ramify from the base, producing tight cushions of many clustered stems. Habitat photos of some truly remarkable plants will give some indication of the ultimate size and spread of this plant, but be warned, I have found this plant to be a very slow grower, so the prospects of growing an equivalent plant, even under ideal greenhouse conditions, will require many years – and possibly decades of growth....

Haworthia limifolia has long been a favorite of mine. It is a more robust plant, with larger rosettes - which in my plant grow to about 5 inches across, with broadly triangular leaves arranged in a pinwheel-like rosette. The leaves bear series of distinctive, pronounced ridges, which accounts for both its common name ("Fairies Washboard") and its proper name (Haworthia limifolia, with "limifolia" translating "file leafed"). This species tillers readily, and grows rather quickly, so that in about 3 or 4 years, a single rosette will produce enough offsets to densely pack a 12 inch bowl. The species and its varieties have a rather wide distribution - they are native to Mozambique, Swaziland, and South Africa, with a number of recognized varieties and regional forms. The most unusual variety is Haworthia limifolia v ubomboensis which has somewhat narrower, pale green leaves which entirely lack the characteristic ridges.

Haworthia reinwardtii v reinwardtii forma kaffirdiftensis is, in my opinion, one of the most elegant forms of this species, with shorter, narrower leaves, on shorter stems than most other varieties. The leaves are decorated with dense, pearl-like tubercles, rather than the band like tubercles which are typical of most forms of this species. The individual stems of this plant, with their tightly recurved leaves and tubercles has the overall appearance of an intricately woven rope. Plants branch from the base to produce multistemmed plants which may eventually grow to about 6 inches tall and to perhaps the same width. The leaves are typically dark green, but plants which are grown in very bright light may take on more reddish hues. As with most Haworthias, the flowers of this form are small (only to about 5 mm in height and perhaps slightly longer) with white petals with greenish/brown midribs and bases. The two downcurved petals are nicely ruffled, a trait which is hard to appreciate without magnification. The flowers are bourn on upright, wiry peduncles which may hold the flowers about 6 inches or so above the foliage on the plants which I have observed (older, more mature plants may produce longer peduncles). This has not been a fast growing plant for me; my plant added about half an inch to each of its stems, and produced a new offset this season, so its rate of growth is faster than Haworthia vicosa, and H. maughanii but slower than H. obtusa This variety originates from the east bank of the Fish River (possibly also known as the Kafferdrift River): it is believed that this variety is probably derived from a single clone in the wild.       

  Haworthia truncata is one of the most unusual species of a genus which is characterized by its gems. Most species of Haworhia produce smallish rosettes of succulent leaves, each of which is typically marked with patterned windows, textured leaf surfaces, often featuring white beaded and ridged outgrowths on the dermis. Most species are highly caespitose, eventually producing dense clusters with dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of individual rosettes. Unlike virtually all other Haworthias, Haworthia truncata does not produce a rosette, but instead produces its leaves in two ranks, in a distichous arrangement, producing odd fans of tightly appressed leaves. The leaf tips end abruptly with a flat window. Plants in habitat frequently grow with their leaves buried in the soil, with only the leaf tips exposed. The windowed leaves admit light deep into the leaf tissues - enabling them to photosynthesize even when they are nearly buried in the soil. This is usually an adaptation to extreme drought and exposure - other plants with similar attributes (Fenestraria, and Lithops for example) frequently grow exposed to full sun and/or wind; by burying the greater portion of the plant below ground, they reduce their exposed surface area, limiting moisture loss. Growing in such exposed sites is atypical for most Haworthia species, which typically grow under the protection and shade of taller plants, but indications are that Haworthia truncata plants are indeed found in more exposed situations.

Hoya bella is a member of the Asclepiadaceae; a plant family characterized by pollinia. Pollinia, gelatinous masses containing the plant’s pollen, are only found in two plant families. The two families are asclepiads and orchids. Other asclepiads include Dischidias, Asclepias (milkweeds), Hoodias and Stapelias.

   Each flower within the flower clusters of Hoya bella has five white petals surrounding a rosy pink corona. The flowers are known as pinch-trap flowers which catch the leg or other body part of the insect, causing it to take the pollinia with it when it leaves the flower. Hoyas are considered scent mimics and some species can smell like honey, root beer, camphor or rotten chicken. Luckily Hoya bella has sweetly fragrant flowers in the evening. Hoya bella has a vining habit, characterized by paired, medium green, succulent leaves which hang gracefully over the edge of its container.

Hoya imbricata is one particularly attractive example of this last type of plant. It is an epiphytic plant with long, thin climbing stems which cling to tree trunks and branches, and bear very large succulent, plate-like leaves (reputedly measuring from about 2 inches, to nearly 10 inches in diameter in some varieties), which clasp the vertical surfaces upon which they grow. These leaves typically grow rather close together, slightly overlapping one another like roofing shingles or fish scales (the specific epithet "imbricata" alludes to this similarity to roofing tiles). Ants colonize the spaces beneath these leaves, often using adjacent leaves to serve as "nurseries", food storage and other specialized rooms or chambers for the ant colony. The spaces beneath the overlapping leaves may also serve as a protected highway, by which ants can travel from the ground to the upper branches of forest trees. This Hoya produces roots all along the length of the stems - those which are located just beneath the leaves will absorb nutrients from the detritus from the ant colony - providing the plant with a significant portion of its fertilization. The plant may also absorb a significant percentage of the carbon dioxide exhaled by the ants - providing the plant with vital carbon necessary in the production of sugars, proteins, and lipids....

Plants of Huernia aspera produce 5 to 7 angled stems, to about 1/2 inch in diameter on my plants, with succulent, fleshy stipular prickles along its ribs. The stems are initially upright, becoming more scrambling as the stems grow longer. At present, the tallest stems on my plant are about 5 inches tall, with a few longer stems growing prostrate, but I have seen plants with stems to just over 1 foot in length, and at least one online source suggests that the stems of some exceptional plants can exceed 3 feet in length. This species quickly ramifies from its base to produce a many-stemmed tufted/sprawling plant. In time, plants will spread in this manner to about a foot or more across (possibly to several feet in diameter). The ultimate spread of this plant can be limited by a the size of the pot, and (if necessary) by occasional pruning, so that a plant in cultivation can be maintained at smaller sizes as needed. Typically the stems are of an apple green coloration, but when grown outdoors in full sun, may become somewhat bleached, producing more yellowish hues....

Plants of Huernia zebrina produce typical 4 and 5 angled stems, with stipular prickles along its ribs. The stems can grow to about 3 or 3.5 inches in length (frequently longer in cultivation), and produce numerous branches near its base to produce an irregular tufted or spreading plant. In time, plants will spread in this manner to several feet across, although their ultimate spread can be limited by a the size of the pot, and (if necessary) by occasional pruning. Typically the stems are of a greenish coloration, but when grown outdoors in full sum, will produce stems with more ruddy tones, which will also exhibit some nicely patterned markings. It is one of the most distinctive plants of this genus, with attractively marked and oddly shaped blooms....

Hydnophytum moseleyanum is an especially attractive species with large, somewhat irregular, and comparatively smooth caudexes - which may grow to as  much as 10 inches long in cultivated plants. The color of the caudex may vary from greenish, to brownish to silvery grey, and in some plants may be similar in appearance to Pachypodium brevicauli. Entrance holes to the internal chambers can be seen near the base of the caudex, but in some other species of Hydnophytum, the entrance holes are located beneath the caudex, and are seldom visible under typical viewing conditions. Plants produce multiple thin branching stems. The branching stems are fairly long - sometimes to several feet, and can develop a rather leggy, and scrambling looking plant. By clipping away leggy looking stems a more compact, and bushier plant can be produced. Opposite, barely succulent oval to lance shaped leaves are produced at fairly long intervals, as the stems have long internodes - usually 1 or more inches apart. Tiny, whitish, waxy looking flowers are produced in the leaf axils - while the flowers are insignificant, these are followed by small fleshy berries which ripen to a yellowish/orange to an orange/scarlet color, adding an attractive splash of color to the mature plants. When growing conditions are favorable - flowers and fruits may be produced throughout the year...

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