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Accepted Scientific Name: Lithops dinteri var. brevis
Cact. Succ. 4 (2) 92 [Mar.-Apr. 1970]
Origin and Habitat: 20 km South East of Vioolsdrif, South Africa.
Habitat: It grows in barren minerals terrains clinging to life in this harsh landscape. They live a precarious existence almost completely buried in the ground hidden beneath outcrops of Coarse pegmatite; fine pegmatite gravel (Colours white, pink, light brown) and are very difficult to find in the field, especially when slightly covered with a fine somewhat brownish sand. The colour of the sand approximates that of the upper surface of the lobes, and these are practically level with the soil. This way they resist attacks from herbivorous predators, and are almost impossible to distinguish from their surroundings until they erupt into vivid daisy-like yellow flowers.
Lithops dinteri Schwantes
Z. Sukkulentenk. iii. 97 (1927)
Lithops dinteri var. brevis (L. Bolus) B.Fearn
Cact. Succ. 4 (2) 92 [Mar.-Apr. 1970]
- Lithops dinteri var. brevis (L. Bolus) B.Fearn
- Lithops brevis L. Bolus
- Lithops dinteri var. brevis C084 20 km SE of Vioolsdrif, South Africa
- Lithops dinteri var. brevis C268 55 km SW of Warmbad, Namibia
Lithops dinteri subs. frederici (D.T.Cole) D.T.Cole
Lithops Flowering Stones 220 (1988)
- Lithops dinteri subs. frederici (D.T.Cole) D.T.Cole
- Lithops dinteri var. frederici D.T.Cole
- Lithops dinteri var. frederici C180 TL: 30 km NW of Pofadder, South Africa
Lithops dinteri subs. multipunctata (de Boer) D.T.Cole
Lithops Flowering Stones 227 (1988)
- Lithops dinteri subs. multipunctata (de Boer) D.T.Cole
- Lithops dinteri subs. multipunctata C181 TL: 65 km SE of Warmbad, Namibia
- Lithops dinteri subs. multipunctata C326 65 km SE of Warmbad, Namibia
Description: Lithops dinteri var. brevis is one of the local or morphological forms of the variable Lithops dinteri. The main point of difference between var. brevis and var. dinteri is that the red spots of the latter are bright red, 10-15, whereas those of var. brevis are fewer in number (1-5) dull red, more sparse, not so prominent and sometimes completely absent. Moreover var. brevis has a smoother appearance and has often a paler mustard colouration. It is however quite variable in colouration and the numbers and design of red dots on the tops of the leaves may vary a lot.
Habit: This variety is more likely to form clumps, and with age especially if grown in shade, they tend to be slightly elongated, whatever we do.
Bodies (paired leaves): Small sized, 12-20 mm long, 10-14 mm broad, turbinate; top of lobe flat; window large, open, transparent, very light-green, with a few round, elliptical blood-red lines near inner margin or blood-red markings absent; outer margin slightly sinuous or minutely serrate; inner margin straight; window bordered by a buff-coloured band, with many minute dots in the band.
Flowers: Daisy-like, diurnal, yellow, small to medium, up to 32 mm across, mostly 20-25 mm across.
Fruits: Capsules 4 or 5-chambered. Profile boat-shaped, top broadly elliptic, with hinge-rim flat, occasionaly slightly peaked.
Seeds: Very fine, brown, tuberculate.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Lithops dinteri group
- Lithops dinteri Schwantes: has pale green-grey-pink-brown faces scattered with bright blood-red dots embedded in surface of transparent window such as have not been observed, so far, in any other Lithops. Distribution: South of Warmbad, Namibia.
- Lithops dinteri var. brevis (L. Bolus) B.Fearn: has fewer red spots (1-5), more sparse, dull, not so prominent and sometimes completely absent. Moreover has often a paler mustard colouration. Distribution: South, South-East and East of Vioolsdrif, Central Cape.
- Lithops dinteri var. brevis C084 20 km SE of Vioolsdrif, South Africa: tiny stonelike heads.
- Lithops dinteri var. brevis C268 55 km SW of Warmbad, Namibia: few bright red spots.
- Lithops dinteri C206 TL: 40 km SSE of Warmbad, Namibia: pale green top, bright red dots.
- Lithops dinteri subs. frederici (D.T.Cole) D.T.Cole: has smaller and more convex heads with paler coloured bodies with less marked red-dots (Rubrications). Distribution: Namaqualand, Northern Cape, South Africa.
- Lithops dinteri var. frederici C180 TL: 30 km NW of Pofadder, South Africa: minute white spotted bodies.
- Lithops dinteri subs. multipunctata (de Boer) D.T.Cole: has larger sized bodies, more coloured with conspicuous red-dots (rubrications) often forming lines, dashes or hooks. Distribution: Warmbad, Namibia.
- Lithops dinteri subs. multipunctata C181 TL: 65 km SE of Warmbad, Namibia: many large red dots.
- Lithops dinteri subs. multipunctata C326 65 km SE of Warmbad, Namibia: red spots and streaks.
Bibliography: Major refences and further lectures
1) Heidrun E. K. Hartmann “Aizoaceae F – Z” Springer 2002
2) Achim Hecktheuer “Mesembs, mehr als nur Lithops” Books on Demand GmbH Norderstedt. 2008
3) Desmond T. Cole & Naureen A. Cole, Uwe Beyer, Yves Delange “Les Lithops” SUCCULENTES Spécial 2008 AIAPS (now Terra seca). 2008
4) Desmond T. Cole & Naureen A. Cole “LITHOPS Flowering Stones” Cactus & Co. Libri. 2005
5) Yasuhiko Shimada “The Genus Lithops” Dobun Shoin. 2001
6) Rudolf Heine “Lithops - Lebende Steine” Neumann Verlag. 1986
7) Bernd Schlösser “Lithops – Lebende Steine” Praktische Anleitung für die Zimmerkultur. BussinessPoint MEDIA. 2000
8) Steven A. Hammer “Lithops – Treasures of the veld” British Cactus and Succulent Society. 1999
9) Desmond T. Cole “Lithops – Flowering Stones” Acorn Books 1988
10) Rudolf Heine “Lithops – lebende Steine” Neumann Verlag. 1986
11) David L. Sprechman “Lithops” Associated University Presses, Inc. 1970
12) Gert Cornelius Nel “Lithops” Hortors Limited, South Africa 1946
13) Edgar Lamb "The illustrated reference on cacti and other succulents" Blandford Press. 1978
14) Christopher Brickell, Royal Horticultural Society "RHS A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants: K-Z., Volume 2" Kindersley, 2008
15) G. C. Nel “Lithops: Plantae succulantae, rarissimae, in terra obscuratae, e familia Aizoaceae, ex Africa australi” Hortors Limited, 1946
Cultivation and Propagation: The Lithops (a.k.a. Living Stones) are some of the world's most fascinating plants and are sought by the collector of succulent plants. Paying attention to the particular growing requirement of Lithops is especially important. If you provide the Lithops with the right conditions, they will reward you with their unique shape, size, colour and a proliferation of blooms in autumn. However, Lithops are tricky plants that are very particular about their growing conditions and require the right maintenance in order to keep happy. But don't be afraid even the best growers have plants that mysteriously dry up, or leave during the night. While Lithops are picky about their care, if you are patient and remember the basics, your efforts will be rewarded. Being small plants, a representative collection can be grown on a patio table, a sunny windowsill or a shelf in the greenhouse.
Soil: They grow best in an open mineral, sandy-gritty soil and requires good drainage as they are prone to root rot. They can grow outdoor in sunny, dry, rock crevices (protection against winter wet is required) They 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. Flowers might improve when the plants are given their own, small individual pots.
Watering They Require little water otherwise the epidermis breaks (resulting in unsightly scars). The basic cultivation routine is: Stop watering after flowering. Start watering after the old leaves are completely dry (usually late March or Early April). Water freely during the growing season, soak the compost fully but allow it to dry out between waterings. In the winter season the plant doesn’t need watering, the plant in this time extracts water from the outer succulent leaves, allowing them to shrivel away, relocating water to the rest of the plant and to the new leaves that form during this period. If grown in a container, bottom watering by immersing the container is recommended. Water sparingly only when warm, no water when cold. Nearly all problems occur as a result of overwatering and poor ventilation, especially when weather conditions are dull and cool or very humid. They must have very dry atmosphere.
Fertilization: Feed them once during the growing season with a fertilizer specifically formulated for cactus and succulents (high potash fertilizer with a dilute low nitrogen), including all micro nutrients and trace elements diluted to ½ the strength recommended on the label. They thrive in poor soils and need a limited supplies of fertilizer to avoid the plants developing excess vegetation, which is easily attacked by fungal diseases. Some growers fertilize frequently, some hardly ever. However, for the highly succulent mesembs, (Lithops, Conophytums, etc.) fertilization is not really necessary.
Light: They prefer a very bright situation and in winter they need the maximum amount of light you are able to give them, but keep more cool and partially shaded in summer. Outdoor (Lithops prefer full sun, with some shade in the hottest summer months.
Hardiness: They require a minimum temperature 5°C (But will take a light frost and are hardy down to -7° C for short periods if they are in dry soil). USDA zones 9A – 11.
Uses: Container, rock garden.
Pests and diseases: They are vulnerable to mealybugs and rarely scale.
Remarks: After flowering in the autumn and extending through winter season the plant doesn’t need watering, but they will still be growing, the new bodies will be increasing in size extracting water from the outer succulent leaves, allowing them to shrivel away. In fact the plant in this time extracts water and nutrient stored in the outer succulent leaves, allowing them to dehydrate relocating the water to the rest of the plant and to the new leaves that form during this period until the old leaves are reduced to nothing more than "thin papery shells".
Propagation: Seed or (or rarely) cuttings. The small seeds can be sown in pots of fine, well-drained sand, any time during the spring and summer months when temperatures are warm. Cover the seeds with a very fine layer of grit and water from below with a fungicide to prevent damping off. For the first 3-4 days cover the pots with a sheet of glass/clear perspex to keep the humidity levels high. Remove the glass and replace it with light shadecloth and mist once or twice a day for the next two weeks after which most seeds should have germinated. From then on mistings can be reduced to every second and then every third day as the little plants grow. Take the cuttings from a grown-up mother plant. Each cutting must contain one or more heads along with a fraction of root and permit them to dry out a couple of days, lay the cuttings 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 Lithops from cuttings and generally pointless as well, so quick are they from seed.
Comment: Improvement of Lithops characteristics: Some growers (but not all!!) think it is very intriguing to reinforce any characteristic of cultivated Lithops of by crossing two similar selected plants and then back-crossing with the mother plant. This way we can eventually get some interesting results. Of course, many of the nicest Lithops we grow in cultivation have already been selected over time. However many Lithops are already nice plants which can’t really be improved, on the other hand one could try to improve the colour or the markings etc. Now if we have two particular plants we may attempt to breed between them and can maybe get a whole improved population and then select some better offspring to continue the selection.
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