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Origin and Habitat: Melseter and Chimanimani Districts, Zimbabwe (South Tropical Africa). Huernia cashelensis was originally known from the Cashel-Mutambara area but now known more widely in the Eastern Highlands in the foothills west of the Chimanimani Mountains, from 40 km south-east of Mutare south to near Chipinge and it has been recorded only on the eastern side of the Sabi River.
Habitat and ecology: This species has a limited distribution on rocky 'Umkondo' shale.
Description: Huernia cashelensis is a tufted perennial succulent with peculiar long tubed flower similar to those of Huernia longituba. It differs from the latter in having 5-6 angled stems and slightly smaller flowers, as opposed to the 4-5 angles of H. longituba. The base of the tube is often slightly widened, and has more bristle-tipped papillae. The corona shows less clavate inner lobes.
History: H. cashelensis was originally described by L.C.Leach & Plowes as Huernia longituba subs. cashelensis (1966), Bruyns transferred it to a subspecies of Huernia hislopii (2005), finally Plowes recognized it as a good species in its own (2013).
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Focke Albers, Ulrich Meve “Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Asclepiadaceae: Asclepiadaceae” Volume 4 Springer, 2002
2) Mapaura, A. "Endemic Plant Species of Zimbabwe". Kirkia 18(1) Page 133 (2002).
3) Asklepios 116: 23 (2014).
Huernia cashelensis Photo by: Luiza Ferreira
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Cultivation and Propagation: Huernia cashelensis 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 10°C.
Winter: Winter care presents no problems at 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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