Your support is critical to our success.
Origin and Habitat: South Africa, northwestern part of Western Cape, Namaqualand and southern Nambia. (It is the only Gasteria of Namaqualand).
Altitude: From close to sea level up to 1000 metres asl.
Habitat: It grows in a dry winter rainfall region on sandstone, granite and shale rocky outcrops and quartz veins in succulent shrubland, often underneath shrubs or shrublets or in the shade of rocks, rarely in exposed or north-facing aspects. The soils are sandy and permeable. pH neutral (6.2 to 7.8). Rainfall 25-200 mm per annum. Summers are very hot with temperatures often reaching 40º C and light frost may occur in winter. It grows in close proximity to many small succulent species and similarly camouflaged. Other commonly associated succulent species in the habitat include Haworthia arachnoidea, Conophytum stephanii, Conophytum obcordellum, Crassula hirsuta, Crassula hemisphaerica, Ruschia rariflora, Lampranthus thermarum, Tylecodon paniculatus, Tylecodon reticulatus, Cotyledon orbiculata, Adromischus orbiculata, Adromischus marianiae, Prenia pallens, Stapelia hirsuta and... many more succulent and geophytic species.
- Gasteria pillansii Kensit
Gasteria pillansii Kensit
Trans. Roy. Soc. South Africa 1: 163 1910.
Gasteria pillansii var. ernesti-ruschii (Dinter & Poelln.) van Jaarsv.
Aloe 29: 17 1992.
- Gasteria pillansii var. ernesti-ruschii (Dinter & Poelln.) van Jaarsv.
- Gasteria ernesti-ruschii Dinter & Poelln.
Gasteria pillansii var. hallii van Jaarsv.
Aloe 44(4): 94 (-95; figs.). 2007
ENGLISH: Cattle tongue, Ox-tongue, Cow-tongue cactus
AFRIKAANS (Afrikaans): Namaqua-beestong
CHINESE (中文): 恐龙
Description: Gasteria pillansii is a nice succulent plant with thick, heavily spotted tongue-like leaves. It proliferate from subterraneous stolons and forms clumps, with up to 150 plants per group and up to 1 m wide.
Roots: Succulent, cylindrical (terete), few branched and short, varying in thickness and numbers from season to season, particularly as temperature and moisture levels change. The roots are shallow and this helps the plants obtain moisture from barely wet soils, and nourishment from decaying leaves and debris from larger shrubs.
Rosettes: Acaulescent with 8-12 decumbent to erect leaves, 5-20 cm tall and 6-40 cm wide
Leaves: Distichous, fleshy, 2-20 cm long, 1,5-5 cm cm wide at the base, lorate (tongue shaped), stiff, hard, leathery and pointed at the tip, both surfaces slightly convex, emerald green with whitish green spots often forming transverse rows. Margins cartilaginous minutely toothed.
Inflorescences: Racemes (1-3 per rosette), 6-120(-165) cm long, spreading, arched, usually unbranched or occasionally with a pair of side branches. Pedicels flexible 9-20 mm long, tending to be aligned in a neat rank.
Flowers: 12-40 per raceme, hanging elegantly and all pointing in the same direction. Less stomach-shaped than many other members of the genus, 25-45 mm long (mostly 35 mm), 6-8 mm in diameter with slender curved dull pink perianth, that becomes almost white near the apex with dark green lines running along the outer tepals into the out-curving tips, getting darker as they progress. The flowers are rich in nectar.
Blooming season: It is the only true winter rainfall species of this genus, flowering in summer from winter growth. (in habitat November to April)
Fruits: Capsules 15-23 long, 7 mm in diameter, opening at the margins.
Seeds: Flattish 4-5 mm wide and 2,5 mm thick.
Remarks: There is considerable variation in Gasteria pillansii over the large distribution area in leaf and flowers size. The species also shares similarities with several other gasterias and closely resemble Gasteria disticha (from Southern Karoo), which has similar leaves but smaller gasteriform flowers of only 12-20 mm in length.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Gasteria pillansii group
- Gasteria neliana Poelln.: sometimes considered a distinct species, it has thick, fleshy, heavily spotted leaves. Distribution: It is the only Gasteria of Namaqualand (Northern Cape).
- Gasteria pillansii Kensit: has heavily spotted tongue-like leaves. It proliferate from subterraneous stolons and forms clumps up to 1 m wide. Distribution: Western Cape, Namaqualand and southern Nambia.
- Gasteria pillansii var. ernesti-ruschii (Dinter & Poelln.) van Jaarsv.: small forms with leaves smaller than 70 mm. Distribution: near the Port Nolloth coast to southern Namibia.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Ernst J. Van Jaarsveld, Ellaphie Ward-Hilhorst “Gasterias of South Africa: a new revision of a major succulent group” National Botanical Institute (South Africa)
2) Van Jaarsveld, E.J. 1994. “Gasterias of South Africa” Fernwood Press, Cape Town
3) Urs Eggli “Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Monocotyledons” Springer, 2001
4) Charles L. Scott “The genus Haworthia (Liliaceae): a taxonomic revision” Aloe Books, 1985
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) Bolus, H. & Kensit, Louisa, 1909. "Contributions to the African Flora: Gasteria pillansii., Kensit, n. sp." Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa 1: 163.
7) Kennedy, R.F. 1967. "Cataloque of pictures in the Africana museum" Vol 2, 307-738. Africana Museum , Johannnesburg.
8) Von Poellnitz, K. & Dinter, K. 1938. "Die erste Gasteria-art aus Sudwestafrika. Gasteria ernesti-ruschii Dinter et von Poellnitz spec. nov." Kakteen und Andere Sukkulenten, 63: 239.
9) Domitilla Raimondo “Red list of South African plants 2009” South African National Biodiversity Institute, 2009
10) F. Sajeva and M. Costanzo, “Succulents, The Illustrated Dictionary” Timber Press, Incorporated, 1997
Cultivation and Propagation: It is of easy culture and can grow on window sills, verandas and in miniature succulent gardens where it is happy to share its habitat with other smaller succulent plants, or in outdoor rockeries.
Growth rate: It is a relatively fast-growing plant that offsets freely to form small clusters quickly.
Soil: It is tolerant of a wide range of soils and habitats, but prefers a very porous potting mix to increase drainage. A non-acid soil is ideal. You can grow a plant in a 10-15 cm pot for years and have perfectly happy plants. For best results, use a shallow pot.
Exposure: Need light shade to shade, but will take full sun part of the day. (with some sun exposure the leaf develops a nice reddish tint and remain compact) During the hot summer months, the soil should be kept moist but not overly wet.
Watering: During the hot summer months, the soil should be kept moist but not overly wet. During the winter months, water only when the soil becomes completely dry. Wet soil quickly causes root and stem rot, especially during chilly winter months. No water should ever be allowed to stand around the roots. Low ambient humidity is always needed.
Feeding: The plants are fertilized only once during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer diluted to ½ the recommended strength.
Hardiness: During the winter months, water only when the soil becomes completely dry. Frost hardy to -1°C (Or less). USDA Zones 9b-11.
Pest and diseases: Rot is only a minor problem with Gasteria if the plants are watered and “aired” correctly. If they are not, fungicides won't help all that much. Incorrect watering, poor drainage or too much shade can lead to attack by pests and diseases. Care must be given in watering, keeping them warm and wet while growing, and cooler and dry when dormant.
Remarks: Gasterias are best planted in a shaded and airy part of the greenhouse, and not too close to the glass roof or sides of the house as the plants can overheat during hot spells.
Propagation: Gasterias are easily propagated by the removal of offshoots or by leaf cuttings in spring or summer. To propagate by leaf cuttings, remove a leaf and let it lie for about one month, giving the wound time to heal. Then lay the leaf on its side with the basal part buried in the soil. This leaf should root within a month or two, and small plants will form at the leaf base. They can also grown from seed.
|Back to Gasteria index|
|Back to Aloaceae index|
|Back to Succulents Encyclopedia index|