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Origin and Habitat: Kenya, border to Ethiopia
Habitat and ecology: Huernia erinacea grows on variety of substrata comprising, very shallow soil on granite rocks, red sandy loam on well drained slopes, pale sandy soil near watercourses, yellowish brown powdery soil on flats and 'Black cotton soil' in Commiphora-Acacia scrub with scattered larger trees such as Delonix, Terminalia, Gyrocarpus. Rainfall between 300 and 400 mm per annum with maxims in April and probably November.
- Huernia erinacea P.R.O.Bally
DUTCH (Nederlands): Aasbloemen
RUSSIAN (Русский): Гуэрния ежовая
Description: Huernia erinacea is a pretty tropical, floriferous species with 5-angled thin dark green stems with some red mottling. The plant produces an abundance of star-like flowers developing in succession. Flowers are yellow mottled with red and covered with short red-tipped teeth.
Habit: It is a loose perennial succulent plant readily offsetting to form low growing mounds up to 10 cm in diameter and 2,5-5 (or more) cm high.
Stems: Prostrate or rarely with ascending extremity, almost terete. 5-angular rigid to 20-60 mm long and 10-14 mm in diameter. Ribs and obtuse tubercles with teeth to them.
Flowers: Near the base of the stems pointing out-wards, upright, 4-5 cm in diameter. Peduncle 7-20 mm long. Tube blunt, flat, basally glabrous, mouth 2 -1.5 cm across, slightly constricted. Sepals c. 6 mm long and 1.75 mm wide. Corolla dull yellow with red spots or lines on limb, very papillate, upper corolla cream, lower dark purple-black. Corolla-lobes to 2 cm long, narrowly triangular. margins purple-red and irregularly dentate-papillose, inside densely papillose, papillae stippled with purple 0.5-1.5 mm long, obtusely conical, glabrous. Corona c. 9 mm in diameter. Outer corona-lobes black-purple, lobes transversely rectangular, centrally with a short appendix or broadly quadrangular, deeply emarginate. Inner corona-lobes whitish, basally purple, apically weakly spotted, lobes 3.5 mm, cylindrical, blunt, slightly divergent. Pollinia yellowish, caudicles very short.
Blooming season: Late summer to early autumn. (In Europe July-October)
Fruit: Typical twin seed horns (follicles), mottled dark-purple and often don't appear until a year later.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Focke Albers, Ulrich Meve “Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Asclepiadaceae: Asclepiadaceae” Volume 4 Springer Science & Business Media, 2002
2) Leach, L.C. “A Revision of Huernia R.Br. (Asclepiadaceae)” Excelsa Taxonomic Series No. 4 Aloe, Cactus and Succulent Society of Zimbabwe (Includes a picture) 1988
3) Illustration in: Excelsa Taxonomic Series 4: 88 (1988)
4) 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
5) Type of Huernia erinacea P.R.O. Bally [family APOCYNACEAE] Herbarium Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (K), K000814145 Type Specimens Collector Gillett, #12629 Collection date 03-1952, Locality Dandu, Norther Prov. Kenya (Kenya)
Cultivation and Propagation: Huernia erinacea isn't difficult to grow and flower.
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: Huernia 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 withhold any water until they begin to shrivel or start growing again.
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