Your support is critical to our success.
Origin and Habitat: Eastern Great Karoo between Graaff-Reinet, Sterkstroom and Steynsburg. Eastern Cape, South Africa.
Type locality: Wodehouse Div.; Carnarvon Farm, near the Railway between Sterkstroom and Indwe.
Habitat and ecology: Grassland, Nama Karoo. Huernia piersii grows on bare dolerite domes. This species occurs at high altitude and appears to be frost tolerant. This habitat specialist is known from only a few collections, but may be overlooked as its range is largely poorly explored. It can be fairly common in suitable habitat. Huernia piersii is closely geographically associated with Huernia brevirostris.
- Huernia piersii N.E.Br.
Description: Huernia piersii is a tufted, perennial succulent distinguished by creamy-white flowers marked all over with small dark red or brownish-crimson spots, and thinly bearded with long outstanding dark crimson clavate hairs in the throat and around the mouth of the tube.
Stems: Short, erect crowded acutely 4-angled stems 2-4(-5) cm long and about 12-15 mm wide, square. Ribs distant from each other, with acute spreading teeth about 1-2 mm long, glabrous, dull green, mottled with dull purplish. In plants from southern localities stems are occasionally 5 angled and stem teeth usually larger.
Flowers: 2–3 together, facing outwards or upwards near the base of the young stems. Pedicels 6-25(-40) mm long, glabrous. Sepals 2.5 - 5 mm long, 1.5 mm wide, ovate-lanceolate, acuminate, glabrous, very variable. Corolla 2.5-3.5 cm in diameter, more or less bicampanulate, outside greenish-creamy to pale yellow, inside cream-coloured to yellowish. Tube campanulate, 6-12 mm long, 10-12 mm in diameter outside basally bright red-brown, above with concentric narrow red-brown lines, otherwise stippled with red-brown, cylindrical or broadly bowl-shaped. Lobes spreading very abruptly from the tube, 8-10 mm long and broad, deltoid, very acutely (almost subulate-) acuminate, erect or revolute, glabrous and smooth outside; inner surface very minutely papillate on the lobes only, smooth elsewhere, but thinly bearded with long outstanding dark crimson (rarely white) hairs in the throat and around the mouth of the tube, these, stiff, erect, mostly clavate and rigid. The tube deep ochreous-yellow, spotted and the minute papillae tipped with purple or crimson, with the spots passing into transverse lines at the mouth , which is creamy-white with purple transverse lines and wholly purple around the corona. Outer corona-lobes about 1.5 mm long and broad, shortly connate at the base, subquadrate and very deeply bifid, black; inner corona-lobes about 3 mm long, but variable in length, subulate, acute, with a transverse ridge at their base, connivent-erect much above the anthers, with diverging tips, purple, first moist with ample nectar. Pollomia brownish-yellow. In plants from southern localities the subclavate hairs tend to be shorter, sometimes mixed with simple straight hairs and are usually more sparsely distributed and and sometimes restricted to the throat.
Fruit: Typical twin seed horns (follicles) , mottled dark-purple and often don't appear until a year later.
Similar species: Huernia piersii is closely related to Huernia campanulata to which it shares similar papillation, and hairiness, but in shape of corolla and spotting of the limb and lobes it seems nearer to Huernia clavigera. Its inner corona-lobes are similar to those of Huernia praestans or sometime Huernia brevirostris. It also shares a very distinctly concentrically lined tube with Huernia barbata to which it is also distributionally closer.
Cultivation and Propagation: Huernia piersii has been long known and grows well in cultivation.
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.
|Back to Huernia index|
|Back to Asclepiadaceae index|
|Back to Succulents Encyclopedia index|