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Accepted Scientific Name: Huernia humilis (Masson) Haw.
Syn. Pl. Succ. 30.
Stems are acutely 4(-5) angled, tapered to the apex in a pyramidal shape, rarely exceeding 3 cm in lengtht.
Origin and Habitat: From the Northern Cape and Eastern Cape (Widespread across the Great Karoo: Middelpos, Beaufort West, Merweville, Hanover, Richmond, De Aar and Willowmore). South Africa
Altitude range: 1200-1600 metres above sea level.
Habitats and ecology: Karroid shrubland, this species occurs wedged among rocks under small bushes. This species is widespread and quite common in some areas, and so not rare as it was once thought to be. The apparent rarity is only a reflection of the paucity of collecting. This species occurs in a sheltered habitat in remote areas where it is not threatened.
Huernia humilis (Masson) Haw.
Syn. Pl. Succ. 30.
- Huernia humilis (Masson) Haw.
- Stapelia humilis Masson
- Huernia simplex N.E.Br.
- Huernia thudichumii L.C.Leach
- Huernia venusta Retief non Masson
ENGLISH: Cherry Life Saver Plant, Lifesaver Plant, Spotted-flowered Huernia
Description: Huernia humilis is a small compact succulent with very beautiful flowers highlighted by dramatic colours, with a fleshy rose donut shaped annulus in the centre, darker than the lobes which are yellow with small maroon spots, finely papillate. The tube is maroon inside, smooth at the mouth. It distinguishes in the shortness of the stems tapered to the apex in a pyramidal shape, smallness of the flowers (25-30 mm across) and usually solitary peduncles. This plant is not well known, quite variable and has only been collected on a very few occasions.
Habit: It is a compact plant readily offsetting to form low growing mounds up to 10 cm in diameter and 2,5-5 (-10) cm high.
Stems: Short, branching from the base, acutely 4(-5) angled, tapering to the apex in a pyramidal shape, or globose, nearly erect and stout 2-7 cm long, but rarely exceeding 3 cm in length, 15 to 20 mm thick excluding the teeth, sometimes as broad as long, glabrous, green, glaucous green or greyish usually with maroon markings. Ribs covered with deltoid, acute, horizontal teeth 2-3 mm long, which are somewhat wicked looking but soft. Pieces break off easily but will soon make root spreading the plant.
Flowers: Star-shaped 2,5-3 cm diameter, mostly solitary, but at times 4–5 or more may be successively produced on a very short peduncle near the base of the young stems. They looks like a "lifesaver" hence the common name.
Buds: Much flattened, pentagonal, very shortly abruptly and acutely pointed at the centre, with 5 small acute teeth at the angles and 5 very prominent ribs, radiating from the point.
Pedicels: Ascending, 6-8 mm long, glabrous.
Sepals: 5-6 mm long, lanceolate-subulate, glabrous.
Corolla: In bud much flattened, pentagonal, very shortly abruptly and acutely pointed at the centre, with 5 small acute teeth at the angles and 5 very prominent ribs radiating from the point, glabrous, when expanded orbicular 25-30 mm across with a very shallow saucer-shaped or shortly campanulate tube maroon inside and a very abruptly spreading limb, lobed to more than half-way and raised into a broad convex ring (False annulus or orbicle) around the mouth of the tube, glabrous, dark purple-brown often marked with undulated whitish spots.
Lobes: 5 deltoid-ovate, very acute, glabrous or minutely papillate, spreading cream coloured to pale or sulphur yellow with purple or red-maroon spots merging on the topside of the annulus and giving the impression that it is entirely dark purple-brown.
Outer corona: Small, with very short transverse bifid lobes or subequally 10-toothed.
Inner corona-lobes: About 1 mm long, ovate, acuminate, incumbent on the backs of the anthers and not produced beyond them.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Huernia humilis group
- Huernia humilis (Masson) Haw.: has rose donut-shaped false-annulus in the centre, lobes yellow with maroon spots, finely papillate, tube maroon inside, smooth at the mouth. Distribution: Northern Cape, Eastern Cape.
- Huernia thudichumii L.C.Leach: has ivory-coloured flowers about 40 mm across, unmarked or occasionally with pale pinkish spots. Distribution: Western Cape.
Notes: This species is closely related to Huernia insigniflora.
Bibliography: Major refrerences and further lectures
1) N. E. BROWN. “Flora Capensis” Vol 4, 1909
2) Doreen Court “Succulent Flora of Southern Africa” CRC Press, 01 June 2000
3) Victor, J.E. 2009. “Huernia humilis (Masson) Haw.” National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2014.1. Accessed on 2015/02/17
4) Bruyns, P.V.“Stapeliads of southern Africa and Madagascar.” (Vol. 1, pp. 1-330). Umdaus Press, Pretoria. 2005.
5) A.C.White & B.Sloane “Stapelieae” ( White & Sloane) ed. 2 3: 855 Abbey San Encino Press, 1937
6) Luckhoff “The Stapelieae of Southern Africa” Capetown, A.A. Balkema 1952
2) Bruyns, P.V. 2005. “Stapeliads of southern Africa and Madagascar.” Vol. II. Umdaus Press, Hatfield.
3) 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
4) Gideon Smith, Neil R. Crouch “Guide to Succulents of Southern Africa” Struik Nature, 01/nov/2009
5) George Don “A General System of Gardening and Botany: Containing a Complete Enumeration and Description of All Plants Hitherto Known with Their Generic and Specific Characters, Places of Growth, Time of Flowering, Mode of Culture and Their Uses in Medicine and Domestic Economy...” Rivington, 1838
Cultivation and Propagation: Huernia humilis is very easy to grow, it needs light shade to full sun (but tolerate shadow), very resistant to heat will also tolerate quite cold temperatures but avoid frost, best in a ventilated environment. It is quite resistant to the “Balck spot” disease of Asclepiads, Water regularly during the growing season, keep dry in winter. Use a gritty, well-drained soil.
Propagation: It is easily propagated by removing a cutting, sometimes with roots attached, in spring and summer, but seeds germinate readily if they are sown when fresh.
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