4/28/2008

Succulent of the Week - Pleiospilos nelii

Pleiospilos - another "split-rock" type succulent, this time from the Klein Karoo region of South Africa. It is sometimes mistaken for a Lithops due to its similar habit (small, stone-like, 2 leaves at a time, flowers from the crack ), but it is not closely related. Pleiospilos are sometimes called the "liver plant", and my elliptical specimen certainly looks a bit like a liver. Like the lithops, these guys do quite well with no water at all. Even for a whole year. I will water it monthly though the fall, and not again until spring. I've moved it to my office windowsill where there's a bit more sun but they are not so cold tolerant. Maybe I need to start knitting some cozies for these pots? I wonder.
The new set of leaves is forming in the center - assuming I don't overwater, these will grow as the old set shrinks and is eventually resorbed by the plant. I'm wondering if this also means an effective 90° rotation of the long axis every year - cool. I will mark the pot and wait to see.

I think the split rock succulents are generally my favorites because they remind me of plate tectonics. A bit of heat, a bit of water.... and wait... total recycling and overturning of the whole body of the plant/planet, at centimeters per year. Yup - these succulents have about the same strain rate as the tectonic plates. If only the world would crack open and produce a giant daisy-like flower... well, I guess somebody already thought of that.

I'm going on vacation - if you can call commercial fishing a vacation - so the Succulents of the Week will be auto-posted through May. I'll check in from fish-stinky internet/laundry mat/postoffice/bar/rent-a-shower facilities periodically so feel free to leave comments, I'll get back to you.

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