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Origin and Habitat: Cape Peninsula, South Africa. It is locally rare, through the districts of Worcester, Oudtshoorn and Prince Albert in the eastern Cape and even more rare in Natal, with a most vigorous form in the eastern lowveld of the Transvaal.
- Ceropegia africana R.Br.
Ceropegia africana R.Br.
Bot. Reg. 8: t. 626 1822
Ceropegia africana subs. barklyi (Hook.f.) Bruyns
Bradleya 3: 35 1985.
- Ceropegia africana subs. barklyi (Hook.f.) Bruyns
- Ceropegia barklyi Hook.f.
- Ceropegia barklyi var. tugelensis N.E.Br.
ENGLISH: Cape Ceropegia
Description: Ceropegia africana is a smaller fascinating climbing plant with a swollen underground tuber (improperly called a caudex) yielding dainty, twining vines and unearthly maroon and white flowers with joined corolla lobes, that are festooned with black hairs. The vines climb a short distance before blooming and the tuber is dormant during the winter. The flowers usually appear in Summer. It has also an attractive shape and decorative succulent leaves. The species shows an extreme variation in the size of specimens however the floral characteristics are fairly constant, including the coronal structure, which was the deciding factor in holding the complex together.
Rootstock (caudex): Tuberous, flattened, sometimes with secondary tubers.
Stem: 10-100 (or more) cm long, 1-2 mm in diameter, poorly to weakly twining, glabrous, mainly annual (varying greatly in robustness from the southern to northern range of distribution). The stems sometime form rhizomes with swollen nodes.
Leaves: Fleshy, glabrous, petiole 2-5 mm long; blade 2-2.5 cm long, 10-12 mm broad, varying from ovate to linear-lanceolate, acute, mucronate or apiculate, rounded or broadly subcuneate at the base sometimes undulate. Mid-green or with silver markings (depending on clones)
Inflorescences (cymes): Pedunculate, lateral at the nodes, 2–3-flowered; peduncles 2-6(-15) mm long, glabrous.
Flowers: Pedicels 2-4(-10) mm long, glabrous; sepals 1.5-4 mm long, 0.5 mm broad, linear-lanceolate, acute, glabrous. Corolla 20-25 (-30) mm long; corolla-tube 14-16(-18) mm long, straight or slightly curved, globosely inflated and about 4 mm in diameter at the base, 1 mm in diameter above, widening to 5 mm in diameter at the funnel-shaped mouth, glabrous outside and within, greenish, striate with violet-brown above; lobes 6-7(-10) mm long, straight, connivent-erect, connate at the tips, linear from a deltoid base, not enlarged at the apex, replicate, keeled down the inner face, glabrous on the back, dark violet-brown, ciliate on the margins and keel with dark purple hairs; outer corona cup-shaped, exceeding the staminal column, with 5 broad 3-crenate or broadly rounded erect lobes scarcely 0,5 mm long, alternating with the anthers; inner corona-lobes 1,5 mm long, erectly connivent over the staminal column, recurved at the apex, much compressed laterally, broadly falcate, very obtuse, 1,5 mm broad, channelled on the inner and acute on the outer edge, dorsally connected at the base to the outer corona between its lobes. Pollinia about 0.25 mm in diameter.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Ceropegia africana group
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) N. E. Brown “Flora Capensis” Vol 4, 1909
2) Dr J.P. Roux "Flora of South Africa". 2003
3) Focke Albers, Ulrich Meve “Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Asclepiadaceae” Volume 4 Springer, 2002
Cultivation and Propagation: This species is of easy cultivation and it can be deciduous in winter if kept cold and dry. It forms the most striking trailing stems if grown in a suspended basket. However the flowers are most interesting and worth the trouble, only bearing in mind that this species benefits from slightly warmer winter than others.
Soil: This plant does well in a rich cactus potting mix, but can become too elongated if compost is too rich. Use pot with good drainage.
Transplantation: Repotting every 2-3 years. The trick is to be as careful as possible, as it falls apart easily. Add some potting mix (compost) to the new container to bring the repotted plant to the correct height. Cautiously upturn the old container, supporting the plant with a gentle hand, position the root ball into the new container, add extra potting mix to fill any empty spaces, and carefully arrange the pearls to hang over the pot.
Watering: The plant will take regular water and fertilizer in summer. Rot prone in winter; keep on the dry side and water only enough to keep the tuber from shrivelling. 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: Frost tender. Plants grown outdoors may endure relatively wet, cold rainy winters.
Exposure: It prefers filtered sun or light shade, but the tuber should stay constantly in the shade.
Pest & diseases: They are pest free outdoors, but may attract white flies if kept in humid greenhouse environments, and some kind of control might be needed. Treat for aphids and mealy bugs if they appear. Rot it is only a minor problem if the plants are watered and “aired” correctly. If they are not, fungicides won't help all that much.
Growing practices: The stem grows over a meter long and and is best trained around a hoop or up a framework, but tends to vine around nearby plants if kept in a pot on a shelf, so it needs to be controlled a bit... give it something to wind around to keep it away from the other plants.
Propagation: It is best propagated from seed or cuttings. Stem cuttings are easy to propagate, cut off strings near a node and stick them into fresh soil to restart. The cuttings should root in 2 to 6 weeks. It will form potato-like lumps under the soil.
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