Archivo de la etiqueta: Lithops

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.


New growth

lush lithops 1
Lithops julii fulleri C162 A

lush lithops 2
You can almost hear the sound of the jelly cracking this morning! A few hours later the new body of Lithops lesliei venteri ‘maraisi’ C153  is almost there. The sun shining through the transparent walls of the crack reveals the red dots you couldn’t see ever before nor in the newly formed leaves.

Lush lithops 3

lush lithops 3:hallii
Lithops hallii C119.

lush lithops 4: hookeri brunneoviolaceaLithops hookeri subfenestrata ‘brunneoviolacea’ C019.

lush lithops 6: Lithops julii brunnea
Lithops julii brunnea C179. The windows are almost green this one, a very nice one to my biased eye.

lush Lithops 7: Lithops fulviceps
Lithops fulviceps, C266.

lush Lithops 8: Lithops hookeri
Lithops hookeri subfenestrata ‘brunneoviolacea’ C019.

Lush lithops 9: L. aucampiae
Another one that split open: Lithops aucampiae C333. At a closer look you can see that the ‘jelly’ is actually green in this species: chlorophyll containing cells all over the sides of the leaves. And not the hint of green can be seen from outside!

lush lithops 10: Lithops C179
Lithops julii brunnea C179: The new face looks quite different from the old one. The grey, almost blue windows with ocre islands and the strong lateral markings are very distinctive.


Growing Friendship

three months later 1:Antimima argentea
Antimima argentea (Rooivlei) has already left the common playground, 106 days. Argyroderma congregatum
Argyroderma congregatum, Vredendal, preparing for the second pair of true leaves. 106 days old.three month later 3: oophytum
Oophytum nanum and Gibbaeum velutinum, both 102 days old.

three months later 4:Lithops coleorum
Lithops coleorum C396, Ellisras, near to their first moult. 109 days.

Fenestraria rhopalophylla ss. aurantiaca ‘Fireworth’; 104 days old.

three months later 6: Oophytum nanum
Oophytum nanum, Quaggaskop. The perfect egg-shape. 102 days.

three months later 7: Schwantesia
Schwantesia marlothii X ruedebuschii , 110 days old.

three months later 8:Aloinopsis malherbei
Aloinopsis malherbei, Calvinia. 110 days.

Three months later 9: Dicrocaulon
Dicrocaulon ramulosum, Riethuis. 104 days. And a little Schwantesia, just struggling to free the first pair of leaves.
three months later 10: Gibbaeum heathii
Gibbaeum heathii, 104 days old. Little fuzzy cuties.


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.

one year old lithops

first birthday Lithops bromfieldii 1
Pretty turgent and apparently smirking with satisfaction, Lithops bromfieldii C348 .
first birthday Lithops dinteri 2
With joyful red dots, Lithops dinteri C206.
first birtday Lithops pseudotruncatella 3
Very different size shows Lithops pseudotruncatella (alpina) C068 after one year growing  together.
first bierthday lithops terricolor 4
The last one to germinate, Lithops terricolor ‘peersi’ C131 are now  the biggest of all seedlings.
first birthday Lithops hookeri 5
Lithops hookeri subfenestratabrunneoviolacea‘ C019 has been by far the most prolific and vigorous of all species sown.
first birthday lithops lesliei venteri maraisii 5
First to hatch, these Lithops lesliei venteri ‘maraisii’ C153 are not the biggest after their first year.
first birthday lithops hallii 7
Germinated very plentyfull, most Lithops hallii C119 died during a hot spell in midsummer in an intruiging sudden death episode. Only a few remained.
first birthday Lithops lesliei luteoviridis 8
Lithops lesliei luteoviridis C020, compact and greenish/yellowish over a grey body.
first birthday lithops julii brunnea 9
Lithops julii brunnea C179 has largely grown in the shadow of a tolerated weed, Conyza bonariensis, and does seem to like it.
first birthday lithops verruculosa 10
Also this one suffered much in summer, Lithops verruculosa C129, two of the few remaining seedlings.

Happy birthday to you all!

Lithops’ companions

playmates: Antimima argentea
Antimima argentea (Rooivlei), first true leaves, 30 days.
playmates 2: Argyroderma congregatum
Argyroderma congregatum, Vredendal; 30 days.
companions oophytum 3
Oophytum nanum, Quaggaskop; 30 days.
I’m very happy about Lithops coleorum C396, Ellisras, germinating so eagerly.  Growing  this  plant  is  a  tribute  to  Naureen and Desmond Cole. 37 days old. Seeds from Mesa Garden.
playmates: fenestraria 5
Another one I’m eager to see grown up is Fenestraria rhopalophylla ssp. aurantiaca ‘Fireworth’. 38 days.
playmates: ophthalmophyllum dinteri 6
Ophthalmophyllum dinteri. Green, 43 days old eggs.
playmates 7 schwantesia
Schwantesia ruedebuschii ‘marlothii’, Aggeneys, which is supposed to have ‘stout red teeth’ does already show colour. 38 days.
playmates 8: Aloinopsis malherbei
Aloinopsis malherbei, Calvinia. Big, flat and dark. 56 days.
playmates 9: dicrocaulon
Dicrocaulon ramulosum, Riethuis. Already showing his water cells, growing along with Schwantesia. 46 days.
playmates 10: SPHAEROID
Closing the eleven, the first sphaeroid coming through is this Argyroderma congregatum, Vredendal. Smooth texture, milky sheen, linden coloured and a complete fissure, the first true leaves share one characteristic with the cotyledons: both sides are unequal. 50 days.


One year in the life

Lithops helmutii june 14
Lithops helmutii
, C271, june 2014.

helmutii 2
Lithops helmutii
, C271, july 2014.

helmutii year 3
Lithops helmutii
, C271, august 2014

helmutii 4
Lithops helmutii
, C271, september 2014, at their new location, at full sun and full rain if there is rain. Up to now, L. helmutii has been the fastest growing of all. The one on the top right measures 22 x 13 x 24mm high.

on year in the life of helmutii
Lithops helmutii
,  C271,  october 2014,  first loss.  The shadow of a nearby Ruellia is not enough, temperatures still high and first showers did not add to my abilities.

first years helmutii 6
In november, after heavy rainfall, the gaps of every helmutii widens again, and the little bodies gain full turgor.  Once established,  they  seem  to  manage the unusual rain quite well.
Lithops helmutii enero 2015
January 2015; L. helmutii are shrivelling and preparing for their moult.

helmutii 8: moult

Not looking so happy now, april 2015, the new pair of leaves not yet ready and the old pair not gone, Lithops hemutii as most Lithops have a hard time when changing leaves.

growing rubies

verruculosa 1
Lithops verruculosa inae
C129 is an inconspicuous littel grey seedling. Things change whith the first pair of true leaves. Even through the ‘eye’ of the cotyledons you can spot the little red gems mounted on the Lithops.
After sowing, L. verruculosa germinated well, cotyledons and young plants always fragile in comparison to other Lithops seedlings.
verru dead head 2
The first summer was hard. A sudden death episode which affected a few species, as well as most of the nice little rubies. They don’t like to much water, nor watering in hot spells at all. I hope I recall next summer: more shadow for these!
rubies 4
Two of the happy survivors just at their birthday. One year old they prepare for a benign drought – the community compot gets more waterings and mistings than individual adult Lithops – and hopefully a new pair of leaves in springtime next year. The rubies have faded somewhat.

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


Anything but nice

Rarely you will find an entry dealing with our dead ones. The end of our efforts, the loss of a plants life, the sad outcome of a wrong culture. Though every gardener has made the experience, it seldom makes a subject for photographs. The failure in sucess is taboo. You don’t want to show nor share.

Taboo 1 optica rubraAlready bought as a replacement of another Lithops optica ‘Rubra’, this one didn’t survive the first summer. Odd colours bid farewell. And again there is no partner for the eventual flower of the remaining ‘Rubra’.

Taboo 2 verruculosaA young hatchling of Lithops verruculosa had successfully managed to grow it’s first pair of true leaves and then suddenly dies. The brothers of the same batch grow without problems.

Taboo 3 bromf mennelliiThis shrunken head of Lithops bromfieldii mennellii was a fairly recent acquisition. The biggest of three didn’t make it over the first watering. The other two are happy and growing.

Yesterday the day begun cloudy. Unshaded, the planter with Lithops seedlings stood in full sun for some hours as the day got sunnier. Some resented it and did not fully rehidrate during the night. They still are turgent to some extend though, so it  could be that those who went whitish are those preparing a new pair of leaves. There is always a bit of wishful thinking when it comes to taboos!

halliiLithops hallii, C 119

verruculosa taboo 5Lithops verruculosa , C 129

taboo fulviceps 6Lithops fulviceps , C266

taboo frithia 7Only severely shrunken: Frithia pulchra seedling with two leaves.

tabooDeath is spreading. Not only this four pretty verruculosa, but the  Frithia seedling, three more L. hallii, one L. dinteri, three L. fulviceps, … are collapsing. What begun as sun-stress has turned out being some much more virulent rot.

This is sad. No wonder I’d prefer not to write about it.

taboo 8 o 9
Did I mention? Water quality is paramount when watering the first time after summer – in fact, not only the first time, but every watering. Never use ‘old’, ‘rest’-water. The bacteria and other microorganism will feed on the Lithops. Even more if the weather is still warm. I know that. But why do I – mindlessly – just pour some old cup with water in it over my Lithops? Didn’t need to verify an old  theory ,,, This is part of what is left of Lithops lesliei albinica.

taboo 10
Still hope for this one, Lithops salicola, which has severe damage on one leaf. The rest is still turgid and looking right, so hopefully this one may survive.


playing in the sandbox

nine months 1
Lithops terricolor peersii C131
nine months 2
Lithops julii fulleri brunnea C179
nine months 3
Lithops hookeri brunneoviolacea C019, Lithops otzeniana C280, Lithops lesliei C020,
nine months 4
Lithops julii fulleri C162A
sandbox 5
Lithops lesliei venteri maraisii C153 and L. julii fulleri C162A
sandbox 6
Frithia pulchra playing with Lithops bromfieldii C348 and L. lesliei C020; Olifantenzeh und Kussmund.
sandbox 7
Lithops julii fulleri brunnea, C 179.
sandbos 8
Lithops dinteri C206.
sandbox 9
Lithops verruculosa C129 and L. julii fulleri C162A
sandbox 10
Lithops aucampiae C333.


Green II

Green cultivars among Lithops are not rare. And usually I’m not fond of them. Perceptions change dramatically when one of the green ones appears in one’s own sowing tray. Now that there is what seems to be a first green pseudotruncatella,   I am very proud. pseudotruncatella green 1And obviously, it has been a tough struggle to get rid of it’s first true pair of leaves. The first pair, already greenish, but not very differrent from the rest of pseudotruncatellas, had been swelling for weeks, from a very tiny body to a nearly one cm ‘blob’. No signs whatsoever of a fissure, and the uplifted body still is perfectly turgent. Then, behind a little stone, there it sat – a complete solid green Lithops pseudotruncatella. So, let’s keep fingers crossed, for there is still a long way to adulthood for this little green cultivar. If it really is one, for after the next molt it could turn back to the usual colour.
pseudotruncatella green 2The ‘normal’ coloured pseudotruncatelllas from the same batch are stronger and display the well known patterns of this species.

pseudotruncablablabla green
No trace of reds or browns – solid green as far as I can tell. But before naming it, I’ll wait what happens after the next two molts. Photographed with 1/64 of additional flash to tease out any possible colour.
green pseudo 4Three days later there is still no red pigmentation. I added some black sand, for the exposed neck didn’t look right.

green and gay pseudotruncatella 5

pseudotruncatella 6
No trace of green Lithops left after changing leaves. Still one of the tiny pseudotruncatellas, but one of the most beautifully coloured.

Sowing Lithops in Summer

sowing II 1

Lithops karasmontana bella, C295. The first six seeds germinated already three days after sowing. Two weeks days later 14 seedlings have survived from 17 hatched.

Sowing II 2

Lithops karasmontana, Signalberg form, LC65A. Also a quickly germinating species. Two hatchlings at the third day. A fortnight later from 15 hatchlings  thirteen havesurvived.

Sowing II 3

Lithops bromfieldii mennellii, C283. At day three, two bromfieldii had hatched; two weeks later, without any loss, there are eleven hatchlings.

sowing II 4

Lithops dorotheae, C300. The first solitary seedling appeared the 5th day after sowing. Now, at day 17, there are six hatchlings.

sowing II 5

Lithops dorotheae, C124. Like his brother, first seedling at fifth day and seven up to now.

ssowing II 6

Lithops villetii ssp. deboeri, C231. Tiny and elongated, though growing with the same strong light as all other seedlings. The first five deboeri appeared at the fifth day and on day 19 there are ten seedlings.

sowing II 7

Lithops aucampiae koelemanii, C256. Fat, mushroom-like from a beginning, the first two germinated the forth day and the little, clear one, was one of them. There were twelve seedlings, remaining only five becuase of – presumably – fungus gnats.

sowing II 8

Lithops lesliei rubrobrunnea, C204. Big seeds that did not germinate in the first two weeks. The first one ap300peared at day seventeen, and two days later there are three cotyledons, flat with a distinct rim.

sowing II 9

An other slow and erratic breeder, C350, Lithops otzeniana. The first seedlings appeared the sixth day and now there are four, two have succumbed. A pity, for L. otzeniana  is one of my green favourites.