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Accepted Scientific Name: Larryleachia picta (N.E.Br.) Plowes
Excelsa 17: 9 (1996)
Origin and Habitat: Southern Africa, from central Botswana into south-western Namibia.
Habitat: It can be found on the eastern edge of the winter rainfall region at an altitude of 800-1600 metres above sea level. It is highly succulent and adapt to very harsh and bright habitats. Larryleachia is a very fine example of convergent evolution, very easy to mistake for a cactus. However there is very similar development of very similar characteristics in plants evolving in similar conditions, although separated by very great distances or otherwise of impossible contact. Indeed, one species in the genus is called Larryleachia cactiforme.
Ecology: This plant has a highly specialized pollination biology, that depends upon flies which are deceived, partially trapped and used as collectors of the pollinia which they transport to a cyathium (Flower) on another plant.
- Larryleachia picta (N.E.Br.) Plowes
Larryleachia picta (N.E.Br.) Plowes
Excelsa 17: 9 (1996)
- Larryleachia picta (N.E.Br.) Plowes
- Hoodia picta (N.E.Br.) Halda
- Lavrania picta (N.E.Br.) Bruyns
- Leachia picta (N.E.Br.) Plowes
- Leachiella picta (N.E.Br.) Plowes
- Trichocaulon pictum N.E.Br.
- Larryleachia engleri (Dinter)
- Trichocaulon engleri Dinter
- Larryleachia meloformis (Marloth) Plowes
ENGLISH: Apple Milkweed
Description: Larryleachia picta is a small perennial stem succulent, mostly solitary (or slowly clumping) that includes the former Trichocaulon meloformis and Trichocaulon engleri.
Similar species: At a first glance Larryleachia picta, if not in flower, may be confused with the closely related Larryleachia cactiformis, generating more confusion among succulents fanciers and grower about it than about any other Larryleachia. It distingushes from the latter for the larger (up to 16 mm in diameter) creamy-yellow flowers marked with orbicular dots (not stripped) and noticeably reflexed petals.
Stem: Green or light green or blue-green 5-6 cm high, 2-5 m wide, unbranched or sparsely branched, short-cylindric, 12-16 ribbed, tessellate, with roughly pentangular, flat or depressed tubercles closely set together; latex colorless.
Leaves: Caducous, reduced to scales, in spirals or verticillate, sessile (and sunken), strongly adscending, 0.5-1 mm long.
Flowers: Appear (usually) close to apex of stems in extra-axillary inflorescences 1 to 3 together on a tubercle apex, subsessile or on a short peduncle 0.5-1 mm long, 1 mm broad. Flowers, each about 8-16 mm, in diameter, simple. Sepals pale green with reddish hue, ca. 2 mm long, 1 mm wide. Corolla fleshy, outside green maculate with reddish or maroon, inside cream or yellow, marked by round purple-brown spots, glabrous, central depression cup shaped, pentagonal, with 5 local swellings. Corolla lobes apically strongly reflexed, inside papillate, papillae weakly rounded or with an apical bristle. Corona purplish-black spekled with creamy-white. Outer corona lobes ca. 2 mm long, bifid with wide diverging horn-like appendages. Inner corona lobes ca. 2 mm long upright converging above the stygma head with diverging tips and spreading conical dorsal appendage ca. 1 mm long.
Blooming season: Flowers open asynchronously in summer.
Fruits (follicles): Usually paired, diverging at an angle of 30-60°.
Notes: The genus Larryleachia was erected by Plowes in honour of Leslie Leach, an English-born electrical engineer, self-taught botanist, and specialist in Asclepiads and Euphorbias. This plant is perhaps best known as one of the smooth-stemmed members of Trichocaulon. The spiny-stemmed species was combined with Hoodia, leaving the former in need of a new generic home. The new genus Leachia was rendered invalid as it had already been applied to a genus in the Asteraceae. Realizing his error, Plowes chose a new name Leachiella. Despite having checked as to the availability of that name no one realized until after publication that it had been used before for a genus of red algae. In 1997 it was finally designated as Larryleachia picta along with several other smooth-stemmed species of the former Trichocaulon genus, now the preferred designation among botanists today.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Focke Albers, Ulrich Meve "Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Asclepiadaceae, Volume 4" Springer, 2002
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) Alain Campbell White, Boyd L. Sloane "The Stapelieae, Volume 3" Abbey San Encino Press, 1937
4) Werner Rauh "The Wonderful World of Succulents: Cultivation and Description of Selected Succulent Plants Other Than Cacti" Smithsonian Institution Press, 1984
5) Maurizio Sajeva, Mariangela Constanzo, Mariangela Costanz "Succulents: The Illustrated Dictionary" Cassell Illustrated, 1995
6) Peter V. Bruyns "Stapeliads of southern Africa and Madagascar, Volume 1" Umdaus Press, 01/gen/2005
7) Birgit Müller, Focke Albers, Ulrich Meve: "Larryleachia." In: "Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Asclepiadaceae: Asclepiadaceae", Volume 4 Focke Albers, Ulrich Meve Springer Science & Business Media, 2002
8) Victor, J.E. 2005. "Larryleachia picta (N.E.Br.) Plowes." National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2015.1. Accessed on 2016/01/06
Trichocaulon pictum (Larryleachia picta) Photo by: Sándor Horváth
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Cultivation and Propagation: Larryleachia picta is a slow growing species of relatively easy culture. If grown correctly, it will reward the grower with generous displays of flowers.
Potting medium: Since roots are quite shallow, use a cactus mix or add extra perlite or pumice to regular soil potting soil. A gritty, very free-draining compost is suitable, and clay pots help the plants to dry out between watering.
Fertilization: Feed with a high potassium fertilizer in summer.
Light requirements: High levels of light are needed to flower and for good development. Can be sunburned if moved from shade/greenhouse into full sun too quickly. During the spring it may be able to take full sun until the heat arrives at the end of spring. In an area that has hot afternoon sun, it may be able to take full morning sun, but requires afternoon shade or afternoon light shade.
Watering Needs: water normally in the growing season, but do not overwater (very wet-sensitively, especially in light of its small root system) Water thoroughly only if soil is dry to the touch, let soil dry in between to prevent root rot, keep dry in the winter with ample airflow. Care must be taken with watering as they tends to become swollen and untidy in growth habit if given too much water and shade.
Hardiness: It is quite frost resistant if kept dry, hardy as low as -5° C (or less)
Propagation: Seeds or division, wait until the offsets that appear at the base of old clustered specimens are 1/3 the size of the parent and then detach and plant.
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