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Origin and Habitat: Vanrhynsdorp, Western Cape, South Africa.
Altitude: 220-350 metres above sea level.
Habitat and ecology: It grows in quartzitic flats.
- Monilaria chrysoleuca (Schltr.) Schwantes
Monilaria chrysoleuca (Schltr.) Schwantes
Gartenwelt 33: 69 1929
- Monilaria chrysoleuca (Schltr.) Schwantes
- Conophyllum chrysoleucum (Schltr.) Schwantes
- Mesembryanthemum chrysoleucum Schltr.
- Mitrophyllum chrysoleucum (Schltr.) Schwantes
- Schwantesia chrysoleuca (Schltr.) L. Bolus
- Monilaria chrysoleuca f. purpurea (L. Bolus) G.D.Rowley
- Monilaria chrysoleuca var. purpurea L. Bolus
- Monilaria salmonea L. Bolus
Monilaria chrysoleuca var. polita (L. Bolus) Ihlenf. & S.Jörg.
Mitt. Staatsinst. Allg. Bot. Hamburg 14: 87. 1973
Description: Monilaria chrysoleuca, commonly known as "strings of pearls", is a small clump-forming plants 6-10(-12) cm tall, with thickish stems shortly jointed like a bead necklace. These plants are unlike any other in that each year one small bead-shaped leaf persists as the stem. Growing only one ”bead“ each year makes it very easy to guess how old a plant may be. Monilaria chrysoleuca is somewhat larger than the other species.
Stems: Strong not crowded with internodes 10-20 mm in diameter usually longer than broad.
Sclerolic sheaths: Campanulate or doliform, terminal sheath during the resting state viewed from above ± circular or irregularly angled, rim of expanded sheath often irregularly lacerate, sheaths 5-13 mm long, 6-10 mm broad.
Expanded leave pair: Erect, cylindrical, blunt, finely papillose.
Flowers: Petals typically white with yellow stamens, but also, yellow, orange, salmon, red, or purple even within a population, filaments sometimes in a different colour, even if petals are pure white.
Fruits: 0 6-13 mm.
Chromosome number: 2n = 18.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Monilaria chrysoleuca group
- Monilaria chrysoleuca (Schltr.) Schwantes: (var. chrysoleuca) the leaves are covered with papillae. Distribution: Vanrhynsdorp, Western Cape, South Africa.
- Monilaria chrysoleuca var. polita (L. Bolus) Ihlenf. & S.Jörg.: the shining leaves are smooth with very inconspicuous bladder cells and with a continuous, yet very restricted distribution area.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Heidrun E. K. Hartmann: "Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Aizoaceae F-Z." Springer Verlag, Berlin/Heidelberg/New York 2001
2) James Cullen, Sabina G. Knees, H. Suzanne Cubey “The European Garden Flora Flowering Plants: A Manual for the Identification of Plants Cultivated in Europe, Both Out-of-Doors and Under Glass” Cambridge University Press, 11/ago/2011
3) Doreen Court “Succulent Flora of Southern Africa” CRC Press, 01/Jun/2000
Cultivation and Propagation: These plants grow on winter rain and head for summer dormancy. The growing season in northern hemisphere is from September to March. They are relatively difficult to grow because they rot easily. Paying attention to the particular growing requirement of Monilaria is especially important. If you provide the Monilaria with the right conditions, they will reward you with their unique shape and size. However, Monilaria are tricky plants that are very particular about their growing conditions and require the right maintenance in order to keep happy.
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)
Watering: Water minimally in summer. Water regularly in winter after the new long green leaves appears at their extremities in autumn after the summer resting period. Requires good drainage.
Fertilization: Be careful not to apply too much fertilizer. 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. Ensure a very good ventilation.
Exposure: It enjoy some shade (avoid direct sun as it grows wild among rocks and under the shade of other plants) and in summer it need to be kept in a cool area.
Hardiness: Hardy to -2°C.
Repotting: Avoid to repot frequently. This plant may stay in the same pot for many years. Plants grown in larger containers have frequently relatively poor flowers. It might improve when the plants are given their own, small individual pots.
Pests and diseases: It is vulnerable to mealybugs and rarely scale.
Propagation: It can be reproduced both by cuttings and seeds. Take the cutting from a grown-up mother plant. Each cutting must contain one or more branches along with a fraction of root. Try to keep the cutting somewhat upright so that the roots are able to grow downward. It is relatively difficult to root Monilaria from cuttings and generally pointless as well, so quick are they from seed.
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