Archivo de la categoría: New

Noid again II

Thanks to ©Pat Hayes at
Thanks to ©Pat Hayes at

A the story goes, a solitary red hartebeest was travelling into the Erongo Mountains, on behalf of Grandfather Mantis. It knew, for Grandfather Mantis had told him so, this was not a good place to be. No open water, no dry grass left in the crevices, nothing to search for but pebbles and boulders and starry nights.
The red hartebeest though had a particular task to fulfill and did not mind. It had been chosen for it was keen-eyed and none but itself would be able to find those special pebbles Grandfather Mantis wanted to hide from the All-Devourer. So it climbed up the hills and hid them all – there weren’t many left – using its worn hooves.

A few thousand miles away, lost on the shelves of a DIY – store, a few two-inch-pots with flowering pebbles await customers to spend an euro as reward for a yellow coloured daisy flower. While most customers don’t even notice them, the few that do hardly believe their eyes: these brightly flowering plants seem to be Lithops werneri,  considered extinct  in  the  wild for  years  and  re-discovered only in 2012,  while trying to re-establish some seedlings bred in captivity.

How on earth did these beefy-bred Lithops werneri  find their way to a DIY – store in Spain?

Under the hooves 2: Lithops werneri cf.

under the hooves 3: Lithops werneri cf

I bought one pot only and noticed that these flowers open even wider after sunset, closing about 8:00pm, so very little time for eventual pollinators to find the flowers which – not surprisingly, really – have a strong honey scent. Not sure if I had purchased an highly unlikely rarity or just an unidentifiable variety or even an hybrid of Lithops pseudotruncatella, I needed further advice. First choice is always one of the authorities on Lithops,  Steven Hammer.

Under the hooves 4: Lithops werneri cf.

Under the hooves 5: Lithops werneri cf.

Most characteristics however, do coincide. The obvious and striking difference is the size of the plant (“bodies the size of a pea” according to Werner Triebner, after whom this species is named), the lack of clear rubrications (which may change if sitting in the sun, as they now are) and the size of the flowers.  Letting aside that highly unprobable circumstance that Lithops werneri shows itself up at a department store chain, provided by local nurseries, the obvious beefy appearence of these plants is a common trait most succulent plants show when raised for mass production. Though the terms ‘mass production’ and ‘Lithops werneri‘ seem contradictory: its nearly impossible to obtain large numbers of seeds of this species.

under the hooves 6: Lithops werneri cf.

under the hooves 7: Lithops werneri cf.

But who am I to disagree, I’ve not only surrendered already to the beauty of the deep yellow daisy flowers, I’ve bought all pots left … Five flowers opened a few days long every late afternoon for two to three hours, time enough for some photographs and some busy paintbrush.  With the help of funny little bees up to the work, too, I hope for seed capsules; raising the seed will give further evidence of the species.

Under the hooves 8: Lithops werneri cf.

Under the hooves 9: Lithops werneri cf.

under the hooves 10: Lithops werneri c.f. by night
It seems the red hartebeest has done its best to guard this flowering pebble for the First People. A piece of magic could certainly be involved, as the several hundreds of tiny Lithops werneri  collected and exported by Triebner himself in the early 50s, and all the collectors after him have not yet extermined this taxon.  Maybe we have to thank Naureen Cole that little werneri has somehow managed to survive and even enter the wholesale market of unlabelled Lithops. But this will be an other story.


Noid again

If you don’t have a specialized nursery nearby, the plants you buy usually come without a name, even if they have a tag with a generic label – e.g. ‘succulent’ – . Some plants are fairly easy to identify, others not. Fortunately the genus Lithops is easy to recognise and the most similar looking species which do not belong to Lithops aren’t easy to find and unlikely will ever make their way into a DIY-store. Within  Lithops  only a few  species  seem  to be available at one time in retail,  though that may vary from place to place. For months I’ve seen L. salicola and L. lesliei albinica for sale – any other. Until these two here appeared at the shelf, and they are neither one of those. For obvious reasons I prefer to buy named species or varieties, but in this case, the brick-red colour and the size did it.
noid again 1: lithops aucampiae
Both plants came in tiny two inch pots, in peat moss. So the first task was to undo the mess and take the opportunity to have a closer look at the roots and possible mealies. Roots looked right, and all seems healthy. Peat moss will work while raising plants in a nursery, pushing them with N-high fertilizer till selling size. But in the long term plain peat moss will cause rot, so these two will have to accomodate to a more mineral substrate, with little organic fibres added, high drainage and much deeper pots. The un-rooted view even gives a hint for identifying the species. As most Lithops grown under strong light are just surfacing the substrate, you look only at a minor part of the plant. The body of these two have a short cone shape, rather compressed, the colour is an intense grey with a purple hue. For the size of the ‘faces’ – 31,5 x 27,5mm –  the body is quite small.
noid again, 2 Lithops aucampiae
The fissure that marks the limits between both pairs of leaves, is only half of the width of each face. As all adult Lithops have, as far as I now, complete fissures, running over the whole top, even if this gap doesn’t open, these two plants, which seem adults for their sheer size, must be still immature. The upper surface, with the ‘grooves’ and the ‘isles’, the ‘channels’ and the ‘rubrications’ the ‘dusky spots’ and the open or occluded ‘windows’ are the main characteristics to identify a Lithops without a flower and a seed pod.
noid again 3 Lithops aucampiae
After two days in the desert sun – well, its only a solstice sun, and the humidity is around 45%, due to sand loaded winter-winds from the nearby Sahara desert – there is a change in appearance. And as I dont’t know how long these young plants have been dwelling without real light on a bottom shelf, I will be careful if this sunny spell continues. There are new wrinkles, the surface isn’t smooth any more, the channels have deepened in colour and they seem to end in dots.
noid again, 4 Lithops aucampiae
To me this two look like a brick-red variant of Lithops aucampiae var koelemanii. But they should be viewed by a Lithops specialist, to verify this attribution. How to contact a specialist in Lithops? The easy way is posting a photograph of the plant in question in a specialized forum, fortunately there are many, so you can choose. After a while you’ll discern the real cracks from those that just answer to every question…
Noid again 5: aucampiae koelemanii
I couldn’t refrain from buying a third – and last – one when I saw it. Immature, too, we’ll have to wait to the next or the other ‘mould’ to see how the Lithops develope their real shape and size – yes, they could even downsize – under well lit conditions outdoors. By the way – the score is 5:3 favouring L. aucampiae over L. hookeri right now!noid again 6: preparing
Mid february, all three are preparing their new leaves inside.

All In A Tumble

all in a tumble 2

Since a few years, one of our local DIY-superstores has a succulent plant section, with plants provided by a local wholesale grower. There are many good reasons NOT to buy living plants or animals in a hardware store and,  thanks to EU laws,  sad dogs,  cats and parrots and their cages have been banned to the specialized zoo-shops. That helps a bit, but ethics still are inappropriate when the living being we are dealing with are invertebrates, fish or plants, grown industrially by the millions for season window boxes and disposable use like a soft tissue. It’s easy to ignore wilted Geraniums while buying nails; for you can get them nearly the same prize at a florists nearby. Even some of the more attractive offers, like big and wellgrown Anthuriums can be refused even if you know, that you’ll have to pay a fiver more in the nursery.

all in a tumble 1

It makes a difference when plants are looked after at the place where they are sold. With a minimum of daylight, water, space and ventilation. And, supposedly, knowledge. But what do you do when you see Anacampseros, Dorstenia, truncate Haworthia, and the rest of the succulent family displayed in alveolar trays – one euro each! – ready to die on the bottom shelf?

all in a tumble 3

Obviously I did wrong. These plants I’d hardly ever seen at one of our five big nurseries, nor at the florists.  One employee of the wholesale grower,  who happened to be right there refilling the shelves just when I was still fighting against my better judgement,  confirmed they didn’t sell at retail. I made a compromise, left those I didn’t know how to care for and took only a few.

all in a tumble 4

Now, the only sensitive thing I can do is getting these plants to survive, to grow and to flower.

all in a tumble  5

And eventually,  get seeds, sow a few and give away the excess.

all in a tumble 6

all in a tumble 7

all in a tumble haw tess

All in a tumble 9

all in a tumble 10


Lithops – New arrivals

 Todo preparado para los nuevos inquilinos – Alles vorbereitet für die Neuzugänge – Ready to move in!ready to moveThey look so extremely tiny when they arrive.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnce in their new place they don’t look frail any more.Lithops mennelli This little beauty is Lithops bromfieldii var. mennellii C283. All three share a square black 13×13 plastic pot now, their new home. I hope they’ll like it. new home for three mennelliimennellii medianomenellii pequeñomennellii grandeNow the first challenge will be to refrain from watering. They live outside,  in the shade. By the way, these plants are two years old.


helmutii 1Take a close look! I proudly present six one year old Lithops helmutii C271.lithops helmutii plantadosI’ve already seen them in close-up. Beauties they are!Lithops helmutii recién plantado