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Origin and Habitat: Northern Tanzania, Souther Kenya. The plant was discovered by J. Erens, a member of the Pole-Evans Central and East African Expedition, in 1938, near Mount Meru, in Tanzania. It has since been collected by C. G. MacArthur on Latema Hill, near Taveta, at around 1000 metres a.s.l., and near Maktau, 1040 metres metres a.s.l. in Kenya.
Description: Echidnopsis repens, (syn: Echidnopsis sharpei ssp. repens), is a reclining to creeping plant, with little branching, is easily broken, and is rooted on the underside. Its shoots are round, ca. 1 cm thick, and green or reddish; the podaria (tubercles) are long, in 8 to 10 rows, bearing the dentate scar of the tiny, deciduous leaf blade in the upper segment.
Derivation of specific name: from Latin 'repens', 'creeping', presumably refering to the creeping stems of the plant.
Stems: Little branched, creeping, rooting almost over their whole length, sub-cylindrical, 6-9 mm in diameter. Tubercles flat, much longer than broad, arranged in 8 -10 ribs, young tubercles with tiny, deciduous leaves.
Leaves: Rudimental to 1.5 mm, lanceolate.
Inflorescences: From the furrows between tubercles.
Flowers: Pedicels 2 mm Long. Corolla, 7-9 mm across, lower third saucer-shaped, spreading towards the lobes, and touching the gynostegium, lower surface glabrous, green, inside deeply wine-red, with several hairs at the centre, and near the margins of the minutely hairy lobes. Corolla-lobes, sometimes tipped yellow, ovate-deltoid or ovate, 3-3.5 mm long,ascending-spreading or spreading, occasionally margins recurved out-wards, especially the sinuses. Corolla-tube and margin of the a lobes inside with scattered hairs. Corona c. 1 mm tall and 2.5 mm wide, cup-shaped, prominently pentagonal. Outer corona-lobes basally light red, margin purplish-red. Inner corona-lobes rectangular-ovate, c. 0.7 mm long.
Chromosome number: 2n = 22
Taxonomic note: This little plant is allied to Echidnopsis sharpei and Echidnopsis virchowii. It has the eight-angled stems of E. sharpei, and the flowers are of the same size, but interior of corolla sparsely hairy; tube narrower, adpressed to side of staminal column. With E. virchowii it shares the cup-shaped corolla. The coronal structure is very near that of E. virchowii from which it differs by having a few long hairs on the outer corona, and by the entire tips of the deltoid inner corona horns.
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) Werner Rauh “The Wonderful World of Succulents: Cultivation and Description of Selected Succulent Plants Other Than Cacti” Smithsonian Institution Press, 1984
3) Hermann Jacobsen “A Handbook of Succulent Plants: Descriptions, Synonyms, and Cultural Details for Succulents Other Than Cactaceae”, Volume 1 Blandford Press, 1960
4) Urs Eggli, Leonard E. Newton “Etymological Dictionary of Succulent Plant Names” Springer Science & Business Media, 29 June 2013
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 August 2011
6) Mauro Grabiele, Ana I. Honfi & Julio R. Daviña “IAPT/IOPB chromosome data 10“ Edited by Karol Marhold & Ilse Breitwieser TAXON 59 (6) • December 2010: 1934–1938
7) Peter R. O. Bally, “East African Succulents.” Part IV page 163 Journal of the East Africa Natural History Society and National Museum, eds 66-74 East Africa Natural History Society, 1940
Cultivation and Propagation: Echidnopsis repens is an easy obliging blooming plant, which is happy in any average succulent house. This plant is common to warrant any description, let it suffice to say that this plant is easy to grow and flower, and one which will tolerate most soils and growing conditions.
Soil: 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.
Watering: They require moderately watering through the growing season but enjoy plenty of water and some fertiliser in hot weather, this helps them to flower freely. Water more sparingly in winter according to temperatures. But, as with most asclepiads, it is unwise to leave them wet in cold weather.
Hardiness: Winter care presents no problems at 5-10°C with plenty of light.
Sun Exposure: Partial sun or light shade.
Pest and diseases: They are generally fairly easy to grow, especially if kept pest-free. They are susceptible to stem and root mealy bugs, and damage from these may well initiate fungal attack. If you do have problems with a stem or with basal rotting, you can reliably isolate the healthy parts, dry them off, and re-root them in moist compost.
Cultural Practices: Re-pot every 2 years.
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.
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