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Origin and Habitat: South Africa. Cape Province on the West Coast (Lamberts Bay to Yzerfontein and inland to Redelinghuys and Hopefield.) Extent of occurrence 3500 km², there are 10 known locations.
Habitat: Cheiridopsis rostrata can be found in rocky terrain on sandy lower coastal plains close to the sea, mostly on granite or limestone outcrops together with Ruschia langebaanensis and Lachenalia aloides. In this area they grow in winter. Summer is a resting period after the winter rains. Cheiridopsis and other members of the Aizoaceae will wait in rest for the first rain when the seed capsules from last season's flowers will burst open to release their seeds. This species is threatened by invasive alien species, habitat loss, habitat degradation.
Cheiridopsis rostrata (L.) N.E.Br.
Gard. Chron. III, 79: 407 1926
- Cheiridopsis rostrata (L.) N.E.Br.
- Cheiridopsis bibracteata (Haw.) N.E.Br.
- Cheiridopsis bifida (Haw.) N.E.Br.
- Cheiridopsis carnea N.E.Br.
- Cheiridopsis inspersa (N.E.Br.) N.E.Br.
- Mesembryanthemum inspersum N.E.Br.
- Cheiridopsis purpurascens (Salm-Dyck) N.E.Br.
- Mesembryanthemum purpurascens Salm-Dyck
- Cheiridopsis purpurascens var. leipoldtii L. Bolus
- Cheiridopsis quadrifida (Haw.) Schwantes
- Cheiridopsis rostratoides (Haw.) N.E.Br.
- Cheiridopsis tuberculata (Mill.) N.E.Br.
- Cheiridopsis velutina L. Bolus
AFRIKAANS (Afrikaans): Kuspolvygie, Vygie, Rotsvygies
Description: Cheiridopsis rostrata is a compact, cushion-forming succulent with grey-green fingerlike leaves covered with translucent spots on the underside. It has yellow flowers showing the common “vygie” shape with petals in a number of whorls around the central bunched stamens and pistils. It is similar to Cheiridopsis cigarettifera, but with leaf-types more differing.
Leaves: Markedly heterophyllous (dimorphic) triangular in section and covered with translucent spots on the underside. Longer leaves to c. 12 cm long and 1.8 cm wide. Shorter leaves fused to c. 3.5 cm, free parts spreading, often curved. Edges and keel rough to slightly toothed, lower surfaces rarely chin-like. Sheaths often flushed with violet.
Flowers: Diurnal, 30-65 mm in diameter, yellow fading red. Width of petal up to c. 2 mm. Stamens up to 7 mm. Stigma 5 mm.
Blooming season: Autumn.
Fruits (capsules): Usually 8 chambered. Valve-wings reduced to small bristles, sometimes with broader bases.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Heidrun E. K. Hartmann “Aizoaceae A – E” Springer, 2002
2) John Manning “Field guide to wild flowers of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland” Struik, 15/apr/2010
3) H. Herre “The genera of the Mesembryanthemaceae” Tafelberg-Uitgewers Beperk, 1971
4) John Manning “Field Guide to Fynbos” Struik, 2007
5) 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/Aug/2011
6) Hermann Jacobsen, Vera Higgins “Succulent Plants: Description, Cultivation and Uses of Succulent Plants, Other Than Cacti” Williams and Norgate, Limited, 1935
7) Jacobsen. “Handbook of succulent plants” 1328 (1960)
8) Barkhuizen, B.P. “Succulents of Southern Africa.” Purnell, Cape Town 1978.
9) Hartmann, H.E.K. “Growth forms and leaves in the genus Cheiridopsis” N. E. Br. Cactus & Succulent Journal (U.S.) 60: 168–173. 1998
10) Helme, N.A. & Raimondo, D. 2008. Cheiridopsis rostrata (L.) N.E.Br. "National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants" version 2014.1. Accessed on 2014/06/20
11) Gideon Smith “Mesembs of the World: Illustrated Guide to a Remarkable Succulent Group” Briza Publications, 1998
Cultivation and Propagation: The Cheiridopsis rostrata is a "winter" grower which is most active from late winter until later spring and heading for summer dormancy, but in favourable growing conditions it keeps going over the summer too and doesn't need particular care. It does well when grown in conditions similar to those in its natural habitat or in a greenhouse. 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.
Soil: It requires a sandy soil that is rich in minerals. Ensure a very good drainage as it it is prone to root rot.
Fertilization: It thrives in poor soils and seems sensitive to an excess of potassium.
Watering: Water minimally in summer, only when the plant starts shrivelling or spray them with a fine mist from time to time, water more abundantly when they are growing in the autumn and spring. Requires little water otherwise its epidermis breaks (resulting in unsightly scars).
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 will take a light frost (Hardy to -5°C) if it is in dry soil. USDA zones 9A – 11.
Uses: Container, rock garden.
Propagation: Seed in spring or cuttings. Sow seeds in autumn, and, to improve the chances of germination, place the seeds in a small container with warm water for 24 hours. This will help to soften the hard outer layer of the seeds. Sow the seeds in a sandy medium and cover them with a thin layer of fine sand about 1 mm thick. Keep them damp, using a fine spray, until seeds start to germinate in about seven to fourteen days. Once the seedlings start growing, slowly reduce the amount of water.
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