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Origin and Habitat: South African endemic, Western Cape. It is found only at one known location less than 10 km² near Stormsvlei.
Habitat: It grows on shale (clay-rich rock) among overlaying quartz pebbles in the Fynbos (shrubland vegetation occurring in a small belt of the Western Cape of South Africa, mainly in winter rainfall coastal with a Mediterranean climate). It is threatened habitat loss and habitat degradation. It is a mostly a winter and spring grower.
- Gibbaeum esterhuyseniae L. Bolus
Description: Gibbaeum esterhuyseniae (a.k.a. Living stone) is a slow growing rock-like species spreading into grey-green carpets. It is similar to Gibbaeum haagei but plants glabrous.
Habit: It is a perennial succulent plants of average size, forming clumps with densely arranged shoots with mostly two leaf pairs.
Stems: Branches very short, woody prostrate, with the remnants of old dry leaves.
Leaves: Fleshy, paired, joined at the base, mostly broad-triangular, more or less horizontally compressed, strongly keeled beneath dull green, bluish grey-green, green-brown or silvery/grey or reddish, smooth without indumentum. The leaves forms unequal pairs, in which the longer leaf is slightly expanded and somewhat hook-shaped, while the short one addpressed to it with a neat cut margin visible close to the the longer leaf. The longer leaf-pair about 5 cm long, the smaller 3-4 cm,
Flowers: Daisy-like, pink/violet (or white) up to 50 mm in diameter and long lasting.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Goldblatt, P. and Manning, J.C. “Cape Plants: A conspectus of the Cape Flora of South Africa.” in: Strelitzia 9. National Botanical Institute, Cape Town.2000
2) Hilton-Taylor, C. “Red data list of southern African plants.” in: Strelitzia 4. South African National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.1996
3) Raimondo, D., von Staden, L., Foden, W., Victor, J.E., Helme, N.A., Turner, R.C., Kamundi, D.A. and Manyama, P.A. 2009. “Red List of South African Plants” in: Strelitzia 25. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
4) Klak, C., Vlok, J.H. & Victor, J.E. 2006. “Gibbaeum esterhuyseniae L.Bolus. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants” version 2013.1. Accessed on 2013/09/29
5) Bolus HML. “Gibbaeum esterhuyseniae spec. nov.” in: Notes on Mesembryanthemum and allied genera 3 : 327–328. 1958.
6) Heidrun E. K. Hartmann “Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Aizoaceae F-Z” Springer, 2002
Cultivation and Propagation: It is a "winter" grower which is most active from late winter until later spring and heading for summer dormancy, and notoriously difficult to grow because it rot very easily, but Gibbaeum esterhuyseniae is not so difficult in cultivation, keeps going over the summer too and don’t’ need very special care.
Soil: It grows best in sandy-gritty soil and requires good drainage as 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.
Fertilization: Feed it once during the growing season with a fertilizer specifically formulated for cactus 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 when the plant starts shrivelling, 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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