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Accepted Scientific Name: Cotyledon tomentosa subs. ladismithiensis (Poelln.) Toelken
Bothalia 12(2): 194. 1977
Origin and Habitat: Garden origin (Nursery produced cultivar). The original natural habitat of this species is limited area south of Ladismith and a few locations near Laingsburg, in the Little Karoo (Cape province), South Africa.
Cotyledon tomentosa Harv.
Fl. Cap. (Harvey) 2: 373. 1862 [15-31 Oct 1862]
Cotyledon tomentosa subs. ladismithiensis (Poelln.) Toelken
Bothalia 12(2): 194. 1977
- Cotyledon tomentosa subs. ladismithiensis (Poelln.) Toelken
- Cotyledon ladismithiensis Poelln.
- Cotyledon tomentosa subs. ladismithiensis f. variegata hort.
Description: Cotyledon tomentosa subsp. ladismithiensis is a rare perennial freely branching succulent shrublet distinguished from the well-known subspecies, Cotyledon tomentosa subsp. tomentosa, by comparing the leaves, the size of the plant and the orientation of the flower. The subsp. ladismithiensis, has stronger branches and may reach 1 m in height (including the inflorescence). The leaves are oblong-elliptic or almost cylindrical, yellow-green and tomentose with usually few sharp apical teeth. Like all tomentose plants this has leaves, flowers and stems all matted, forming a woolly coating. The pendulous red flowers resemble those of Cotyledon orbiculata.
Forma variegata: The attractive variegated form is easily recognized for its foliage which has creamy-yellow patches. Plants with variegated leaves are attractive and very popular in cultivation.
Stems: Thin, 3-4 mm in diameter, set loosely, tomentose to pilose, branching profusely near ground level.
Leaves: Plump, soft, opposite or decussate, and densely tomentose with non glandular hairs, oblong-elliptic or almost cylindrical one sharp tip or rarely up to three (or more) apical teeth, yellow-green with sectors, patches or stripes with distinct shades of creamy-yellow and tomentose. These tips are sometimes reddish
Inflorescence: The inflorescence is a thyrse with 1-3 dichasia, with 10—20 nodding florets; peduncle 0,15-0,25 m long, densely hairy. Scape slender, covered with a dense felt of hairs, 10—20 cm. long, with.
Flowers: Pendulous on quite short pedicels, reddish typical Cotyledon urn-shaped with five petals that separate near the tips to curl back at the mouth. Corolla tube abruptly swollen between the calyx lobes. Corolla lobes recurved-spreading half as long, hairy outside, glabrous within except for tuft of hairs where filaments are fused to tube. Stamens 10.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Cotyledon tomentosa group
- Cotyledon tomentosa Harv.: has leaves, flowers and stems all covered with down. Leaves scalloped with 3 to 10 prominent dark red "teeth" at tips. Distribution: From Groot River to Trumpeter's Poort.
- Cotyledon tomentosa subs. ladismithiensis (Poelln.) Toelken: has stronger branches to 1 m tall. Leaves oblong-elliptic with 1 to 3 (or more) sharp apical teeth and pendulous red flowers. Distribution: Ladismith and Laingsburg.
- Cotyledon tomentosa subs. ladismithiensis f. variegata hort.: has creamy-yellow patches on foliage and few pointed teeth on leaves tips.
- Cotyledon tomentosa f. variegata hort.: has cream patches on foliage, usually around edges and up to 10 red teeth in a line on leaves tips.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Roger Spencer "Horticultural Flora of South-Eastern Australia" UNSW Press, 2002
2) A. B. Graf “Tropica: Color Cyclopedia of Exotic Plants and Trees from the Tropics and Subtropics” Roehrs, 1978
3) Court "Succulent flora of southern Africa" 1981
4) Werner Rauh “The Wonderful World of Succulents: Cultivation and Description of Selected Succulent Plants Other Than Cacti” Smithsonian Institution Press, 1984
5) Ernst Jacobus van Jaarsveld, Daryl Lee Koutnik “Cotyledon and Tylecodon” Umdaus Press, 2004
6) 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/ago/2011
7) W. H. Harvey “Flora Capensis” Vol 2, 1894
8) African Succulent Plant Society “The Bulletin of the African Succulent Plant Society” African Succulent Plant Society., 1972
9) Sean Hogan “Flora: a gardener's encyclopedia” Vol. 1 Timber Press (Portland, Or.) 2003
10) Hermann Jacobsen “Abromeitiella to Euphorbia” Blandford Press, 1960
11) Dr J.P. Roux “Flora of South Africa” 2003
Cotyledon tomentosa subs. ladismithiensis f. variegata Photo by: Giuseppe Distefano
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Cultivation and Propagation: Cotyledon tomentosa subs. ladismithiensis f. variegata is a relatively commonly sold plant at garden outlet nurseries, and can make a nice low succulent shrublet in the garden, does well in containers, and makes a good houseplant. It is widely grown and not difficult to cultivate. They are dormant in summer and thrive with bright light and ample airflow.
Growth rate: Moderately fast.
Soil: It grows best in sandy-gritty soil. Good drainage is very important as it is prone to root rot.
Fertilization: Feed it once or twice during the growing season with a fertilizer specifically formulated for cactus and succulents (poor in nitrogen), including all micro nutrients and trace elements diluted to ½ the strength recommended on the label.
Watering Needs: It is a very dry-tolerant plant. Water regularly in the growing season, but avoid water-logging and let dry between waterings. Water with caution in winter, as the plant can lose its roots if the soil stays cold and wet for extended periods. If grown in a container, bottom watering by immersing the container is recommended. It must have very dry atmosphere.
Sun Exposure: Does well in filtered sun, but can handle some shade, too. In shade the leaves colour will remain more green, while in full sun conditions the foliage can develop a pale yellowish tinge. In summer keep cool and provide shelter from direct sun during the hottest hours. It can be sunburned if moved from shade/greenhouse into full sun too quickly. It tends to get really leggy in deep shade.
Frost Tolerance: Protect from frost to prevent scarring. It requires a minimum temperature of about 5°C, but will take a light frost and is hardy down to -5° C for short periods if it is in dry soil (Lethal temperature in habitat -6 to -10 ° Celsius). USDA zones 9A – 11. In areas prone to frost, grow in an intermediate greenhouse or conservatory, in pots.
Uses: They make wonderful rocker plants in hot, dry areas and also grow well in containers or sunny patios or in a hot corner next to a swimming pool.
Warning: The plants are highly poisonous to humans and domestic animals, especially sheep and goats, and the meat of animals killed by cotyledonosis remains toxic even after cooking. Poisoning may be acute or chronic, the latter due to the cumulative effect of the toxin.
Pests and diseases: May be susceptible to mealybugs and rarely scale. Protect from cold.
Propagation: From seed but it is easily increased by cuttings. Cuttings root easily. It is also possible, to plant the leaves in good, sandy soil where they will take root - members of this family often propagate vegetatively in this way.
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