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Origin and Habitat: Angola, Namibia (Damaraland)
- Huernia oculata Hook.f.
Huernia oculata Hook.f.
Bot. Mag. 108: t. 6658. 1882
Description: Huernia oculata, with its unique looking flowers, is one of the most gem like of all. The corolla is blackish purple velvety with a pure white centre which has given rise to the saying that the flowers are like an eye. It is closely related to Huernia hislopii.
Habitat: It is a compact succulent plant, of dwarf habit, readily offsetting to form low growing clumps 10 (or more) cm in diameter up to 7 cm high.
Stems: Stout, slender, glabrous, erect or somewhat sprawling, 5-angled, strongly toothed, 4-10, rarely more, cm long and about 8 mm in diameter.
Teeth: Conical, to wing-like, more or less compressed, acute, recurved bristle-pointed, glabrous, green, or dull purplish where exposed to the sun.
Flowers: Several together in a many-flowered inflorescence, pointing outwards near the base of the young stems, successively developed 1-5 cm in diameter with a campanulate acutely 5-lobed corolla, 2,5 cm diameter, velvety, intense blackish-purple or deep brownish-black, with the bottom of the corolla pure white.
Bracts: 7-8 mm long.
Pedicel: 4-5 mm long.
Sepals: 5 up to 15 mm long, apically very acute.
Corolla: Outside greenish with purple, basally paler, inside basally white, sometimes slightly suffused with pink, about 2 cm in diameter, shallowly bowl-shaped, lobes and margin of the tube black-purple.
Corolla lobes: Rarely green, 4 mm long 7-8 mm broad, triangular, more or less acuminate, spreading, slightly revolute, both sides roughened-papillose.
Corona: Pale yellow, red or purple, 4,5 mm.
Inner corona-lobes: Reduced. with variable margins.
Outer corona lobes: Approx. 2 x 1.25 mm meeting each other above the Anthers, straight, often curved, then partly with overlapping tips, attenuate, tip obtuse.
Pollinia: Brownish or greenish-brown.
Blooming season: It flowers freely in late summer and early autumn.
Fruit: Paired follicles.
Seeds: Numerous, strongly compressed, with a coma (a prominent basal tuft of silky hairs).
Bibliography: Major refrerences and further lectures
1) Focke Albers, Ulrich Meve “Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Asclepiadaceae” Volume 4 Springer, 2002
2) A.C.White & B.Sloane “Stapelieae” ( White & Sloane) ed. 2 3: 855 Abbey San Encino Press, 1937
3) Luckhoff “The Stapelieae of Southern Africa” Capetown, A.A. Balkema 1952
4) Bruyns, P.V. 2005. “Stapeliads of southern Africa and Madagascar.” Vol. II. Umdaus Press, Hatfield.
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/ago/2011
6) Curtis's botanical magazine, comprising the plants of the Royal gardens of Kew and other botanical establishments in Great Britain; with suitable descriptions by Joseph Dalton Hooker. London, L. Reeve, 1882, volume 108, plate 6658. Hand-coloured lithograph by John Nugent Fitch (sheet 152 x 250 mm).
Huernia oculata Photo by: Julio C. García
Huernia oculata Photo by: Valentino Vallicelli
Cultivation and Propagation: Huernia oculata is a species which grows and flowers easily in cultivation.
Spring: When winter ends and they begin to grow again, they will require much water and soaking the pots will no longer put the plants at risk for rot. In the spring they will grow well in partial shade and leaving them out in the rain may provide them with the water they need.
Summer: In the summer months they will tolerate heavy rain, but will be just as happy if the season is dry. It's best to sort out the stems while the plants are resting in the summer before they begin their autumnal growth cycle. They will tolerate very hot weather outdoors as long as they are kept in filtered light and this will encourage them to flower in the Autumn. They also enjoy some fertiliser. Moving the plants as they are developing buds may cause them to spontaneously abort the flowers all together.
Autumn: In the fall keep them outdoors until the night time temperatures drop below the 5°C.
Winter: Winter care presents no problems at 5°-10° C with plenty of light. As soon as they are flowered be sure to take extra precautions to keep them dry, because damp cool conditions when the plants are resting is an invitation to fungal infections, but - according to temperatures –some occasional lit watering may be useful
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. Re-pot every 2 years.
Pest and diseases: Huernias are generally fairly easy to grow, especially if kept pest-free. They are very susceptible to stem and root mealy bugs, and damage from these may well initiate fungal attack. Any time when there is a dead or dying stem in the pot it is important to remove it immediately and completely before other healthy stems can become ill too, isolate the healthy parts, dry them off, and re-root them in new compost.
Propagation: Easiest with stem cuttings. Allow cuttings to dry a day before planting. Stems must be laid (Not buried) on gritty compost and will then root from the underside of the stems. It can also be increased from seeds sowing in spring in moist, sandy peat moss. Barely cover seeds. Seeds germinate quickly.
In any season it's best to lay the stems out for several days before replanting them and then pot them only in dry soil and with hold any water until they begin to shrivel or start growing again.
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