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Accepted Scientific Name: Stapeliopsis saxatilis (N.E.Br.) Bruyns
Cact. Succ. J. Gr. Brit. 43(2–3): 77 1981
Origin and Habitat: Republic of South Africa (Western Cape, Eastern Cape).
Habitat and ecology: Stapeliopsis saxatilis grows in dry places in small hill among rocks.
- Stapeliopsis saxatilis (N.E.Br.) Bruyns
Stapeliopsis saxatilis (N.E.Br.) Bruyns
Cact. Succ. J. Gr. Brit. 43(2–3): 77 1981
- Stapeliopsis saxatilis (N.E.Br.) Bruyns
- Pectinaria tulipiflora C.A.Lückh.
- Neopectinaria saxatilis var. tulipiflora (C.A.Lückh.) Plowes
Stapeliopsis saxatilis subs. stayneri (M.B.Bayer) Bruyns
Cact. Succ. J. Gr. Brit. 43(2-3): 79 (1981)
- Stapeliopsis saxatilis subs. stayneri (M.B.Bayer) Bruyns
Description: Stapeliopsis saxatilis is a low growing perennial-succulent forming large colonies. The lantern shaped flowers are produced in fascicles of 4-7, arising near the base of the branches in the grooves between the angles; the lobes are connate (joined at the tips) and are a dark purple in colour overlaid with brown and hairy, and spring usually from a central point. Often the flowers are produced below the level of the soil, so it is to be supposed that they are fertilised by ground insects. The outer corona is reduced and the inner corona conspicuous and arching over the style apex. The stems themselves are procumbent, and frequently subterranean appearing a little way away from the parent plant (young mostly above-ground) 4-angled with conical recurving teeth.
Derivation of specific name: The specific name, saxatilis, means “rock-dweller”.
Stems: Prostrate, procumbent, branches often growing downwards into the ground and then curving upwards or the young shoots commencing to develop underground, acutely 4-angled, 3.5-12 cm long, 8-25 mm thick, square, with flat or slightly concave sides and broadly deltoid acute teeth 2-3.5 mm long along the angles, having a small (and, with age, prominent) bud in each axil, glabrous, at first glaucous-green, becoming dull green, often tinged or marked with dull purplish, finally greyish. Although there is a young bud in the axil of every tooth on the stems, yet only those on the underside develop into shoots.
Leaves: Rudimentary 5 8 mm long, more or less broad, horizontally spreading, becoming hard-spiny.
Flowers: On fascicles of 2–8 on the sides, near the base of the younger shoots stems, or produced below the level of the soil, developing successively, erect. Pedicels 1-10 mm long, glabrous. Sepals about 2 mm long, lanceolate or ovate-subulate, tips curved outwards, glabrous. Corolla bud-like, 9-16 mm long, 8-10 mm in diameter, broadly ovoid or subglobose, or weakly conical, acute or shortly acuminate or apiculate, entirely blackish-purple, very dark purple-brown or pale rose or reddish, glabrous outside, covered with fine hairs and having a “frosted appearance” (Pillans) inside. Tube 4-5 mm deep, broadly cup-shaped or hemispheric. Corolla lobes 6-10 mm long, 5 mm broad, deltoid to ovate-lanceolate, acute, cohering at the tips (rarely free), with narrow fissures between them in the lower part, not recurved at the margins and not ciliate. Outer corona-lobes at the base of the staminal column, minute, to 0.5 mm long, spreading, broadly ovate or deltoid, subacute, glabrous, dark purple-brown. Inner corona-lobes 2.5-3 mm long, much exceeding and erectly connivent (or sometimes connate at the tips) high above the staminal column, rather thick and fleshy, linear or subulate, obtuse or acute, with a short deltoid-subulate tooth or small thickened crest (occasionally gladiate), comb-like on the back below the middle, dark purple-brown. Staminal column 1.5 mm long; anthers subquadrate, obtuse, without appendages, incumbent on the outer part of the truncate style-apex. Anthers apically with few transparent stiff hairs. Pollinia 0.25 mm in diameter, round to weakly bean-shaped.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Stapeliopsis saxatilis group
- Stapeliopsis saxatilis (N.E.Br.) Bruyns: stems 8-25 mm thick, corolla bud-like entirely blackish-purple, lobes 6-10 mm long cohering at the tips. Corona dark purple-brown. Distribution: Western Cape, Eastern Cape.
- Stapeliopsis saxatilis subs. stayneri (M.B.Bayer) Bruyns: stems 1 cm thick, corolla campanulate whitish near the base, 6 mm across, lobes 4-6 mm long. Corona pale yellow. Distribution: Lower Breede and Duiwenhoks river valleys, Western Cape.
Bibliography: Major refrerences and further lectures
1) N. E. BROWN. “Flora Capensis” Vol 4, 1909
2) Vlok, J. and Schutte-Vlok, A.L. 2010. "Plants of the Klein Karoo." Umdaus Press, Hatfield.
3) Foden, W. & Potter, L. 2005. "Stapeliopsis saxatilis (N.E.Br.) Bruyns." National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2014.1. Accessed on 2015/02/18
4) Focke Albers, Ulrich Meve “Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Asclepiadaceae: Asclepiadaceae” Volume 4 Springer Science & Business Media, 2002
5) Doreen Court “Succulent Flora of Southern Africa” CRC Press, 01 June 2000
6) “The Bulletin of the African Succulent Plant Society” Volumes 5-6 page 70, 1970
Pectinaria saxatilis (Stapeliopsis saxatilis) Photo by: Luiza Ferreira
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Cultivation and Propagation: Stapeliopsis saxatilis is an easy obliging blooming plant , that it is happy in any average succulent house. If grown in pots then the underground stems tend to form a tight tangled growth below ground and are then apt to rot. For best results these plants should be grown in shallow pans when they will grow and flower profusely.
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: Stapeliopsis 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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