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Origin and Habitat: South Africa, Northern Cape (Calvinia) and Western Cape ( Ceres, Sutherland)
Altitude range: 600-700 metres above sea level.
Habitat and ecology: Hammeria meleagris grows in finely grained Ecca shales or amongst rougher shales. Rainfall less than 100 mm per annum. The population is stable and not threatened.
- Hammeria meleagris (L. Bolus) Klak
Description: Hammeria meleagris, best known in cultivation as Ruschia salteri, is a low growing perennial succulent, up to 6 cm tall and 1 meter in diameter. The plants grow rather compact when young, but lose their shape with age producing some decumbent to creeping long shoots with few-leaved short shoots on them and somewhat heterophyllous (having different types of leaves).
Taxonomy note: The genus Hammeria was established to hold mainly the species Ruschia salteri, which had to be excluded from Ruschia because it lacks closing bodies and possesses broad valve wings. In the course study in Lampranthus, Klak (2000: 38-39) was able to identify the types of three species as belonging with H. salteri, one of them older and, therefore, the base of the valid name: H. meleagris.
Stems: Over 50 cm long, prostrate. The 20-35 mm long internodes connect tufts of leaves, the stem rooting at intervals.
Leaves: Up to 15 mm long, to 5 mm broad, up to 8 mm on diameter, triangular in cross section, lunate in side view, but the keel rounded, on some leaf-pairs the epidermis with elevations elongating into teeth along keel and margins, upper leaf surfaces appressed in the resting state, spreading in wet conditions
Flowers: Solitary, daisylike, pink. Petals, 7-13 mm long, to 2 mm broad. Filamentous staminodes few, pale. Filaments apically purple. Anthers and pollen white. Pedicels erect, becoming S-shaped and decumbent with the ripening of the fruit.
Fruits (capsules): Very short funnel shaped, top almost flat, 65-70 mm broad with 5 locules, without closing bodies, with broad valve wings covering membranes almost complete, but thin and flexible and falling into the locules as in fruits of the Titanopsis-type once the capsules are empty, no distal closing device. The dispersal of seed is closely related to the opening of the capsule through moisture. The seeds are expelled from the locules, triggered by rain, when conditions for germination of seedlings are favourable. Stalk persistent S-shaped,
Seeds: ca. 1 mm broad.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Heidrun E.K. Hartmann “Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Aizoaceae F-Z” Springer Science & Business Media, 2001
2) Doreen Court “Succulent Flora of Southern Africa” CRC Press, 01/Jun/2000
3) Ed Storms “Growing the Mesembs” Tarrant Printing, 1976
4) Klak. “Hammeria meleagris” in : Bothalia 30: 39 (2000).
5) Burgoyne, P.M. 2006. Hammeria meleagris (L.Bolus) Klak. National Assessment: “Red List of South African Plants” version 2014.1. Accessed on 2014/07/12
Cultivation and Propagation: Hammeria meleagris is most active in winter, but in favourable growing conditions it keeps going over the summer too and doesn't need particular care. In cultivation it seems to prefer a fairly dry rest in winter but grows whenever watered. In very dry warm regions these succulents make very impressive out door ground covers. The ponk flowers attract insects when the flowers open.
Growing rate: It is vigorous and quick-growing, speedily forming lateral shoots and low mats.
Soil: 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.
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: They are not at all delicate and can take some water year-round. Water minimally in winter, only when the plant starts shrivelling, water more abundantly when they are growing in the spring, but let the soil dry between soaking. During summer, they still need some water eventhough they are somewhat dormant. 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 partially shaded in summer.
Hardiness: It prefer a very bright situation and require a minimum temperature 5°C, but can be cool to cold and dry in the dead of winter. The earlier in the year they are planted, the better the chances for winter survival. True with many of the Mesembryanthemaceae.
Maintenance: Pinch off spent flowers to encourage more blooms.
Uses: This popular, water-wise garden plan is an excellent plant for container growing. It always looks good and stays small. It look fine in a cold greenhouse and frame or outdoor in a rockery. In the garden this plant is used best with other succulents such as Cotyledon orbiculata (pig's ears), Dorotheanthus bellidiformis (bokbaai vygies) and Cheiridopsis acuminata, which makes a striking display.
Pests & diseases: Hammeria meleagris may be attractive to a variety of insects, but plants in good condition should be nearly pest-free, particularly if they are grown in a mineral potting-mix, with good exposure and ventilation. Nonetheless, there are several pests to watch for:
- Red spiders: Red spiders may be effectively rubbed up by misting the plants every day.
- Mealy bugs: Mealy bugs occasionally develop aerial into the new leaves and flowers with disfiguring results, but the worst types develop underground on the roots and are invisible except by their effects.
- Sciara Flies: Sciara flies are one of the major problems for seedlings. It is a good practice to mulch your seedlings with a layer of grit, which will strongly discourage the flies.
- Scales, thrips and aphids: This insects are rarely a problem.
- Rot: They appear more susceptible to mould in wetter conditions than most other species in the genus.
Propagation: It is very quick and easy to start from seed or cuttings. Seeds germinate in 7-14 days at 21°C in spring. To make a cutting twist off a branch with at least a part of roots and permit it 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. To enhance rooting success use a rooting hormone powder.
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