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Accepted Scientific Name: Gibbaeum album N.E.Br.
Gard. Chron. 1926, Ser. III. lxxix. 215.
Gibbaeum album in full bloom is an unforgettable experience. Violet flowers contrasted beautifully with an almost white plant body
Origin and Habitat: South Africa (Cape Province: Ladismith)
Habitat: Grows in field of quartzite pebbels
Gibbaeum album N.E.Br.
Gard. Chron. 1926, Ser. III. lxxix. 215.
- Gibbaeum album N.E.Br.
- Gibbaeum album var. roseum N.E.Br.
- Gibbaeum album f. roseum (N.E.Br.) G.D.Rowley
ENGLISH: Beak of a shark
AFRIKAANS (Afrikaans): Bababoutjie, Haaibekkie
Description: Gibbaeum album is dwarf, compactm scarcely branched clump-forming succulent with greyish-white united leaf-pairs. Growing , always above ground. The 4 to 15 leaf-pais, develops mainly towards the outer edge hence pressed laterally to the soil, the interior of old plants is occupied by persisting old capsules and old leaves remnants.
Leaves: Up to 2.5 cm tall, isophyllous, 2 paired, unequal, asymmetric, (of which one more long) developed into a prominent, slightly triangular and oblique keeled chin, mostly melted in each other, with a chalky white to greyish-white metallic colour, but not shining, because the leaf surface is folded by short, branched interlocking hairs.
Flowers: Daisy-like, pale pink to dark violet up to 30 mm long, pedicel 5-15 mm. The petals gradually inter-grade into white-pinkish filamentous staminodes.
Blooming season: Summer and long lasting.
Remarks: The leaves of this plant are very similar to those of Argyroderma congregatum and Antimima dualis.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Gibbaeum album group
- Gibbaeum album N.E.Br.: Dwarf, compactm scarcely branched clump-forming succulent with unequal, asymmetric leaf-pairs, (of which one more long) developed into a prominent and oblique keeled chin, with a chalky white to greyish-white metallic colour. Flowers white to pink.
- Gibbaeum album var. roseum N.E.Br.: Same as the type, but with daisy-like, pink to dark violet blooms.
Notes: Various species of the genus Gibbaeum are called in Afrikaans, ‘Haaibekkie’. In English this means ‘beak of a shark’. This very apt name is derived from the shape of the two leaves that together form the plant growth. They differ in size and because these leaves grow closely together the fissure of most species looks exactly like the beak of a shark, though without the teeth of course. Gibbaeum album itself has also a South-African name, Bababoutjie, which means baby’s bottom.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Heidrun E. K. Hartmann “Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Aizoaceae F-Z” Springer, 2002
2) Gert C. Nel “The Gibbaeum Handbook, a Genus of Highly Succulent Plants, Native to South Africa” Blandford Press, 1953
3) Hermann Jacobsen “A handbook of succulent plants: descriptions, synonyms, and cultural details for succulents other than Cactaceae, Volume 1” Blandford Press, 1960
4)Werner Rauh “The Wonderful World of Succulents: Cultivation and Description of Selected Succulent Plants Other Than Cacti” Smithsonian Institution Press, 1984
5) Goldblatt, P. and Manning, J.C. 2000. "Cape Plants: A conspectus of the Cape Flora of South Africa." Strelitzia 9. National Botanical Institute, Cape Town.
6) Hilton-Taylor, C. 1996. "Red data list of southern African plants." Strelitzia 4. South African National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
7) Vlok, J. and Schutte-Vlok, A.L. 2010. "Plants of the Klein Karoo." Umdaus Press, Hatfield.
Cultivation and Propagation: This plant grow on winter rain and heads for summer dormancy. The growing season in northern hemisphere is from September to March. It is notoriously difficult to grow because it rot very easily.
Soil: It grows best in sandy-gritty soil and requires good drainage as it it is prone to root rot. It can grows outdoor in sunny, dry, rock crevices (protection against winter wet is required) It can also be cultivated in alpine house, in poor, drained soil.
Repotting: They may stay in the same pot for many years. Plants grown in larger containers have frequently relatively poor flowers. They might improve when the plants are given their own, small individual pots.
Fertilization: Feed it once during the growing season with a fertilizer specifically formulated for cactus and succulents (poor in nitrogen), including all micro nutrients and trace elements diluted to ½ the strength recommended on the label. It thrives in poor soils and need a limited supplies of fertilizer to avoid the plants developing excess vegetation, which is easily attacked by fungal diseases.
Watering: The Gibbaeums thrive in dry and desert regions and are able to stand extended periods of drought and require careful watering. Water minimally in summer, (only occasional misting), water more abundantly when they are growing in the autumn and spring, but let the soil dry between soaking. Requires little water otherwise its epidermis breaks (resulting in unsightly scars). If grown in a container, bottom watering by immersing the container is recommended. It must have very dry atmosphere.
Light: It needs a bright sunny or light shade exposure in winter, but keep cool and shaded in summer.
Hardiness: It prefer a very bright situation and require a minimum temperature 5°C (But will take a light frost and is hardy down to -7° C for short periods if it is in dry soil). USDA zones 9A – 11.
Uses: Container, rock garden.
Pests and diseases: It is vulnerable to mealybugs and rarely scale.
Propagation: Seed in autumn or (or rarely) cuttings. Take the cutting from a grown-up mother plant. Each cutting must contain one or more heads along with a fraction of root and permit to dry out a couple of days, lay it on the soil and insert the stem end partially into the soil. Try to keep the cutting somewhat upright so that the roots are able to grow downward. It is relatively difficult to root Gibbaeums from cuttings and generally pointless as well, so quick are they from seed.
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