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1. How I Specifically Grow Mesembs

Written by Kurt W. Pott. / Wednesday, 16 November 2011 20:08
After experimenting with growing various mesembs from seed under artificial light, I believe I've
learned some universal truths about mesembs. I haven't grown all types of mesembs, so some
things I don't know about.

Indoors under artificial lights, eliminates some of the variances and problems of habitat. Indoors,
my winters are never too cold, or summers too hot for growth. Any time of the year is suitable for
growth as far as temperature is concerned.

Soil In habitat is characterized by:

1. Ability to drain away a sudden deluge to a safe depth and ideally make reservoir pockets beneath
the soil surface farther below the plant body.
2. Ability to store scant precipitation at or near surface.
3. Ability to wick water away and keep plant roots from remaining in soggy soil too long while
still retaining some usable moisture.

I've found that soil made up of angular rocks, stones, pebbles and grains (rubble), mixed 50-50
with powdered clay mimics soil in many mesemb habitats. This soil is conducive to allowing
enough time to grow enough roots to start using water without the plants being forced to remain
in soggy soil too long.

After a long dry spell, the clay at the surface cracks up leaving channels through the surface. After
a longer dry spell, erosion causes the clay to powder on top of that. Now, if a sudden heavy rain
comes, it drags most of the clay powder down through the channels to the point where the rubble
clay mixture ends, and larger rocks or bedrock begins forming pockets of moisture in clay at
various depths, and all along the bottom of where the bedrock begins. Eventually, a lot of the space
between rubble may become filled with clay and old plant matter all the way to the surface. If a
light rain comes first, the powder on top makes moisture pockets around each drop at the surface.
If more light rain falls, it eventually permeates the soil to dampen all the clay at the surface. All
this gives the plant a lot of time to regrow roots and root hairs after sensing moisture without being
too soggy too long. Once the clay is moist, a lot less precipitation is necessary to keep the surface
moist enough but not too moist to rot the plant., but further, heavier rains are needed to supply
enough moisture for Active growth, or collect in the deeper clay reservoirs.

So that type of soil acts as a buffer which regulates moisture properly and evens out the amounts
that come at any particular time. It meets all 3 requirements listed above. The deeper the clay
pocket reservoirs of water underground are, the longer they remain moist, much longer than the
clay at the surface which dries out much more quickly being exposed to the sun and air. However,
the surface often still retains moisture long enough at each precipitation event to be of some benefit
to the plant once the root hairs regrow.

This is not a very high nutrition soil, so I water with diluted fertilizer water (Miracle-Gro) at about
1/10 to 3/10 outdoor garden watering strength mixed in collected rain water, or snow.

To summarize, the above soil mix greatly aids in the gradual increase in watering necessary to
give time for root hair development, no matter how the precipitation actually comes, and can form
long lasting deep underground reservoirs of moisture in clay pockets. In cooler winter weather,
these reservoirs can cause water vapors to rise to the surface, moistening clay ever nearer the
surface and become of use to the plants, as well as be available to deep tap roots.

There are 3 phases of plant life with mesembs.

1. ACTIVE - Roots are at maximum amount and efficiency, and plants are increasing in size and/or
number of leaf pairs; may produce a flower. I don't keep any mesembs in Active growth more than
1/4 of a year, and in habitat adequate rain for Active growth may last anywhere from 3 months to
not at all.

2 SUBSISTENCE - Roots are NOT totally dried up, and the plants can suck in some water and
plump (make turgid) their leaves, but the plants will not increase in general size, or produce brand
new leaf pairs, without causing an older leaf pair to shrivel.
3. REST:

a. WATERLESS - No water, root hairs are dried up, but plants are not Dormant because of
inhospitable temperature. Many mesembs will grow new leaves, and/or flowers from the water
stored in old leaves, causing the old leaves to shrivel.

b. DORMANT - This is the same as Waterless , root hairs are dried up, except temperature is also
too inhospitable for the plant to grow even if it had water.

Do not let a plant shrivel entirely after root hairs have totally dried up. Bring back to Subsistence
before that happens. If the plant totally shrivels, and dries after the root hairs are dried up, it's
probably dead. Except for Diplosoma, luckhoffii which can totally wither above ground as long as
it has produced a small, hard, button-like growth at the base of it's meristem (possibly under ground
surface.) In it's first year Diplosoma, luckhoffii may not produce this button. It may not be
produced until after the first flowering. I haven't grown enough of these long enough to know
exactly when, or what year of maturity. If the plant shrivels entirely without the button, it's dead,
but with the button everything above the ground surface can die, and when the plant is coaxed out
of Rest by gradual watering, at the next appropriate time, will grow again.

Some mesembs produce two types of growth leaf pairs. One prior to Rest and one prior to full
Active growth . The growth leaf pair is usually more open, and separate, and the Rest one is more
upright, closed, and fused to better protect growth during Rest, and inhospitable temperatures.
Many mesembs produce a different leaf pair for flowering, also. Some flower right out of an
existing leaf pair.

Understanding these phases is crucial to growing mesembs, and sometimes even if you do
everything right, some may die...they sometimes inexplicably die in nature, too. Not understanding
these phases will kill them most of the time.

When should the plants be in what phase? In habitat, freezing winters, or blazing summer heat are
when the plant should be Rested. Put another way, below 40 degrees F, or above 95 degrees F.

Under lights indoors, temperatures never go below 60 degrees F or above 80 degrees F, so I can
choose whether to mimic Rest during Summer or Winter photo-periods or both, but I do let the
roots totally dry up even if I can't make the temperature inhospitable. I do cause winter to summer
to increase from 9 - 15 hours or 15 minutes per week, and decrease the same for summer to winter.
I don't cause Rest in the Spring or Fall, photo-periods.

Most mesembs not only recognize short day lengths from long day lengths, they also recognize
whether day lengths are increasing (Winter to Summer) or decreasing (Summer to Winter.) When
a mesemb is moved between north and south hemispheres, It may grow for a while in the wrong
increasing or decreasing time, because it needs somewhere over 1/2 of a year to figure out whether
the photo-period it moved to was increasing or decreasing. When it figures out what time of the
year it is in, the plant will revert to growing in the same photo-period time it was accustomed to in
habitat in the next year. It seems as though this is programmed into the seeds by genera and species.
Maybe some revert to however they were raised from seed. I'm not sure if it's a memory thing, or
genetic thing, maybe could be either, or examples of both could exist.

All plants are sensitive to humidity, soil moisture, air flow, temperature and photo-period, and
light intensity. My indoor range of humidity, soil moisture, air flow, temperature are pretty much
all non issues. Temperature I control a little; if too humid, I use a fan; but photo-period, and light
intensity I control precisely. See my link "Under Lights." The winter temperatures are coldest in
habitat about a 40 days after the shortest days and hottest about 40 days after the longest days
(time lag from earth cooling or warming.) It is one or both of these two time periods I choose to
Rest them, and let roots totally dry up. The other 2 seasons I usually keep in Subsistence. For me,
it depends how much my plants are under-grown or over-grown. I try to adjust to get them to look
as much like in habitat, as I can.

Although Active growth phase is more temperature dependent than photo-period dependent, I find
it best to have Active growth phase during photo-period when days are lengthening, and flowering
during photo-period when days are shortening, because some mesembs flower at the end of their
growing period, some at the beginning. If I know which of the two, I try to match the flowering
and growth times appropriate to the photo-period.

During Subsistence, after first plumping, do not water lightly again until some re-shriveling. After
maintaining Subsistence for a while, you may gradually push to Active phase. If a younger leaf
pair is growing off an older leaf pair shriveling, you could just go Waterless while it depletes the
old pair entirely. If this Waterless time is long enough for significant root hair loss (drying up)
then push to Substistence again gradually. If your plant is, in your opinion too small, you may
want to push to Active before the old leaves are used up entirely on newer ones, but there is some
danger to overgrowing your plants. I like to keep my plants at not less than two leaf pairs, and not
more than three. Or some of the sphaeroids are best kept to not less than one leaf pair and not more
than two. It just depends on what species you are growing. You may have two leaf pairs and not
be able to see them both without surgery, because one is deep inside a more or less fused outer
pair. Some plants are triggered by photo-period alone, and some by light watering of Subsistence,
or both, but I've never heard of them spontaneously growing from no roots (Rest) triggered by
photo-period alone...Maybe I haven't grown that mesemb yet.

Mesembs reproduce themselves in 2 ways:

By seed following flower, and pollination (sexual,) and by offset (asexual.) Most species have both
types within the same specie. Some flower readily, and offset slower. Others offset readily and
flower seldom or never. Propagation from only one of the two types has the tendency to make the
other type extinct if everyone did the same thing. To produce seeds, two genetically different
enough parents must cross-pollinate. There are a few that can self-pollinate. Even the species that
flower well can be made to not flower well by growing it too much and not giving the plant enough
dry Rest, or not giving it the appropriate light intensity, and/or photo-period.

An ideal mesemb year with a too hot summer would be: summer=Rest, fall=Subsistence,
winter=Subsistence, or Waterless. Spring=Active after Subsistence Winter, or Subsistence leading
to Active after Waterless Winter.

An ideal mesemb year with a too cold winter would be: winter=Rest, spring=Subsistence
summer=Active, or Waterless, fall=Subsistence. Under lights, and indoors, I haven't used this one;
I use the hot summer Dormancy, maybe I'll try the other sometime in the future.

Ideal years don't always happen regularly in habitat. Some years a Rest may be longer, or last a
year or more, and Subsistence time could be shorter, or longer, Rest could occur other times, and
sometimes within a year there is no Active growth at all. There could also be flowerless years.
Some may die in habitat because of extended drought (Rest) or multiple sudden soaking rains
while roots are totally dried up. If in Subsistence a couple of sudden soakings may result only in
splitting, and ugly scarring. If plants are kept in alternating Waterless and Subsistence phases
without any Active growth phase, they can be dwarfed, and be kept in that state many years. In
that state they occupy much less physical space, and use up far less plant energy. They can be
converted to normal sized adults by pushing to Subsistence and then Active growth at the next
appropriate specie photo-period.

Whenever root hairs are totally, or mostly dried up, you DO NOT water heavily. Repeated heavier
watering when plant has no root hairs will kill them every time. Sometimes as few as two heavy
waterings will kill them. To bring from no roots (Rest) to some roots (Subsistence) or to maintain
Subsistence, you only spray or lightly water, like fogs and dews, condensation, real light rains,
short drizzles. Ease into Subsistence from Rest. Ease into Active from Subsistence. During Active
growth you can water them deeply, to promote the desired growth you want. Heavy watering
directly during Subsistence may possibly kill them, but that is far less likely than heavy watering
while Resting. Heavy watering is reserved only for Active growth, with fully grown root system.
Active growth generally should not last more than 1/4 of a year.

Most if not all mesembs can and will flower during Subsistence. A few need heavier watering for
flowering, some will tolerate it, some will flower during Waterless, a few won't tolerate heavy
watering during flowering. To be safe, if you don't have experience with a certain mesemb, see if
it will flower during Subsistence. A plant that plumps during Subsistence generally has enough
energy to flower. If the mesemb fails to flower with Subsistence only, you can always try watering
during flowering time the next year. If that doesn't work, try Waterless the next year. If all that
fails, you may have a plant the offsets easily, but seldom or never flowers, or wrong photo-period,
or light intensity. If you have many plants, each in their own pots, and don't mind possibly losing
a few, you could try all methods at once to save time. A plant won't die from not producing a
flower, but may from over-watering at the wrong time. Flowering always uses up a lot of the plant's
energy. For mesembs that flower after their growing period, this is when the annuals die, and the
perennials need Rest, or Subsistence followed by Rest.

A typical yearly cycle for too hot summer mesemb would be: Summer=Rest, no water. At the end
of Summer and beginning of Fall, start light, spraying, like fog, dew, condensation, gradually
increasing in frequency, until the mesemb first plumps. You have reached Subsistence. This must
be done to gradually allow time for the plant to redevelop strong and extensive roots, and root
hairs. Coming out of Rest into subsitence is the hardest stage to get the mesembs into without
killing them. Go very slowly and gradually, and watch, and wait for the first plumping. I spray at
night (plants grow at night and make food during day) and only once every 2 or 3 days, waiting
for their plumping reaction. Once in Subsistence for a while you could lightly spray every night to
push Subsistence into Active growth. To remain in Subsistence, after first plumping, re-water only
after some re-shriveling. Now keep Subsistence through Fall. Winter can continue Subsistence or
go to Waterless...your choice. Then in Spring, start watering more heavily to push Subsistence of
Winter into Active growth, and if Winter was Waterless, gradually bring to Subsistence first, then
to Active. Then in Summer stop watering abruptly, or gradually through Subsistence first...again,
your choice. Either can happen in habitat.

Active growth with its accompanying heaver watering should always follow Subsistence (some
roots,) never follow Dormancy (no roots) directly. If you are heading toward Active growth,
increase gradually from Subsistence to Active and then you can switch to heavy bottom or top
watering, waiting for soil to just dry out between each watering while in Active growth. Don't
water when soaked already. Actually, when some mesembs have a full, Active root system, they
can tolerate quite a lot of water, but I still advise waiting for soil to just dry out between each
watering at least an inch deep in a pot, and only promote enough growth without over-growth. I
almost always heavy bottom water seedlings, never heavy top water, since that tends to dislodge
them and they float to a new location which may or may not be detrimental.

Just remember, you can grow these plants to death. Some nurseries maintain very long Active
periods to get the plant big, attractive, and more salable sooner than they would be naturally, but
leave you with a plant which is severely weakened to disease that will probably die when you try
to coax it out of the next Rest to Subsistence. The plants seem to need Rest at least yearly. The
goal here is to get more than enough growth (without overgrowing them) to easily tide you over
through the next Dormancy phase and wake-up to Subsistence phase. When you get a plant that
was way overgrown, your best course of action is to provide immediate Subsistence until the next
possible Rest time. Rest for as long as you dare, and then very, very, gradual watering back to
Subsistence in the appropriate photo-period. If it makes it to Subsistence without dying, then you
can decide whether to use the dwarfing procedure for a while longer, or immediately push to
Active. The longer it was held in Active, the longer the following Subsistence, Rest periods should

As long as there is a slow, gradual increase of watering between phases at some species compatible
photo-period, Rest periods and other Subsistence periods can be thrown in anywhere else during
the year. Any Rest longer than 6 weeks may cause enough root hair loss so that if you start new
watering again, increase the watering gradually. It never hurts to be gradual.
The following color chart describes the strategy outlined in the gold colored paragraph above. The
top half is for a too hot Dormant Summer Rest, and the bottom half is for a too cold Dormant
Winter Rest. The precipitation represented in the upper half applies to both halves of the chart, and
is about the same no matter when you choose the Rest period. The droughts, and extended droughts
pictured in the bottom half also apply to both halves. In habitat, droughts could occur any time
throughout the year and shorten the times of precipitation. Some or all of the precipitation in the
chart may not occur when there is drought in both Summer and Winter. That's why Precipitation
is pictured in two shades of blue, and droughts and extended droughts are pictured in two shades
of brown. In habitat, some rough years may have no significant precipitation.

As far as I've been able to determine, varying degrees of this strategy will work on most if not all
mesembs. Most mesembs flower when the day shortens, few when the day lengthens, but it will
be fairly regular, specie by specie. Active growth generally seems to work best when days are
lengthening. There are some habitat climate exceptions. Actually, if a plant is grown with outdoor
photo-period and light intensity, It can be fooled or confused, because the usable light to a plant is
actually the product of light hours x intensity. In other words, you can compensate to some extent
for too short days with more intensity, and weaker intensity with longer days. Real cloudy summers
could be interpreted as winter by some. Or real bright winters could be interpreted as summer by
some, especially true if indoors on a window sill, but most can tell by photo-period alone, what
season they are in. Some seem to be just programmed a certain way from seed, or maybe, however
they grew in their first year is how they will grow every following year. It pays to keep records of
2. Mesemb Culture - New Zeeland


By Didge Rowe.

There are four sub-families currently placed by most experts in the Aizoaceae. Mesembs comprise
but two of them and some authorities still place them in their own family the
Mesembryanthemaceae. Until more research settles this question; Dr. Heidrun Hartmann the
leading Aizoaceae authority, has coined the taxonomically informal name mesembryanthema for
them. Taxonomy is the branch of biology concerned with the classification of living organisms.
One hopes that anyone wishing to grow mesembs successfully has basic horticultural skills and
some experience cultivating succulent plants in general. These notes are intended to build upon
those skills.

Mesembs are an extremely diverse group of plants with an extensive array of morphologies (forms)
and survival strategies; this makes their cultivation more interesting and challenging than for any
other succulent plant family.

The correct cultivation of plants is determined by complex interrelationships of both

environmental and human controlled inputs; such as light, temperature, airflow, humidity, water,
nutrients, and pots/potting mix etc. Change any of these parameters and you will require changes
to others.

These notes are directed at growers in a wide array of climates, so must be broad in outline. There
are too many environmental variables to permit hard and fast rules regarding their cultivation. My
hope is that I can assist you to attain an understanding of the needs of these plants that will permit
the application of cultivation regimes suited to your local climate.

Some of the words I use may be new to you. These will be explained as you progress through each
chapter. Anyone wishing to fully enjoy cultivating mesembs will find learning these words very
helpful because they are used in much of the useful literature.

Northern hemisphere readers must add six months onto my southern hemisphere months.

My current perspective
I have grown mesembs for decades in both cold and warm temperate climates; but for some years
now, I have been cultivating them in the sub-tropical climate of Brisbane, Australia. Here we have
a hot, humid, erratically deluged summer season with temperatures often into the high thirties
Celsius, sometimes higher, with nights often uncomfortably hot. This is followed by an extremely
sunny, yet cooler, dry season with day temperatures usually about 25 C. Then nights are cool but
frost is quite rare.

I am able to cultivate virtually all mesemb species as winter season growers with a more or less
high summer rest period, giving me a very different perspective to mesemb cultivation than that
of growers in far more suitable (for mesembs) temperate latitudes.

Winter or Summer Growers

These descriptive terms are loosely used by succulent connoisseurs for the growing seasons of
succulent plants. Growing seasons are an important subject for the cultivation of mesembs, so I
will explore it in some detail.

So-called winter growers grow throughout the winter season or the cooler months of each annual
cycle from sometime in autumn to sometime in spring. This is necessarily subject to your local
climate; therefore if it becomes too cloudy and/or cold in mid winter then growth will slow or stop
completely and certainly watering should be severely reduced or withheld completely until it
becomes warmer.

On the other hand, summer growers grow throughout the summer season unless it becomes
particularly hot when a period of reduced growth or full dormancy can ensue. Undoubtedly, a
combination of particularly hot weather and watering is more dangerous than a mix of cool (not
freezing) and slightly wet conditions for most mesembs. Consequently, for many species, growth
may occur primarily in moderate weather in spring and autumn, regardless of whether they are
obligated to either winter or summer growth.

However, many succulents do not have a set growing season and will grow whenever conditions
are suitable. These are termed opportunistic growers and because most species will prefer to grow
in suitably warm weather, they are often confused with summer growers.

Those species that will grow ONLY in 'summer' are obligate summer season growers; an excellent
example is the leaf deciduous species Cyphostemma juttae (Vitaceae). It drops its leaves about
mid autumn and remains dormant until some time in spring. In contrast, an exemplar species that
only grows in the winter season is Tylecodon paniculata (Crassulaceae). As a leaf deciduous
obligate winter season grower, it drops its leaves about mid to later spring.

It is much rarer for succulents to prefer growth in cool wet conditions, so there is little confusion
of opportunistic species with winter season growers. Nonetheless, in nature some succulents must
grow during the cooler months of each yearly cycle, because that is the only season when USEFUL
rain falls. Succulents from arid winter season rainfall regions are so adapted that many, if not most,
are obligate. There is much anecdotal evidence that most if not all succulent plants must have at
least one period annually when active growth is suspended or they will eventually weaken and die.
This is called dormancy or a rest period. Often the species inbuilt response to climatic or other
"triggers" will induce dormancy. With opportunistic plants, we cultivators have some choice; by
withholding water we can induce rest periods at optimal climatic times for our plants.

To summarise, mesembs may be divided into three major categories; summer season, winter
season and opportunistic (any suitable season) plants. However, as we will see these labels are not
definitive enough for mesembs.

Mesemb Growing Seasons

Understanding the nuances of mesemb growing seasons is vital to one's ability to cultivate these
plants successfully.

Most species originating from the coastal southern African winter rain/fog-belt are short day
growers, while others from regions further inland on the high plateaux etc., are usually described
as summer growers.

In my opinion there are extremely few truly obligate summer growers among mesembs. Some
Delosperma species (e.g. D. cooperi) appear to be so; certainly they show no signs of winter season
growth/flowering in Brisbane, yet all others of a wide variety of species do. This may explain why
this genus has spread so far up the eastern summer rain side of the African continent. It will be
very interesting see where all Delosperma species fit into growing season categories after the genus
is updated taxonomically. For example Delosperma echinatum flowers throughout my winter
season; probable evidence that it is not truly a Delosperma as recent DNA studies indicate. Both
Frithia species may also be obligate summer growers; however, I do wonder if even Frithia could
be cultivated with an autumn to spring watering regime here. I haven't had the nerve to test this

Although species commonly considered obligate winter growers; do grow primarily through
shorter, cooler days, many will try to commence growth shortly after the summer solstice (mid
January), when days are long and it is still extremely hot here in Brisbane (high thirties Celsius).
Thus, the term winter grower is particularly misleading; it is more accurate to describe them as
short day growers. Certainly, growth commences when days are starting to shorten but ends when
days are lengthening. Other than the very early species, other short day growers start growth
sequentially as nights continue to lengthen and temperatures cool. Most species are in full growth
by about mid autumn and there are very few exceptions. Incidentally, these plants constitute what
I believe are the most interesting of all the mesembs with their often dimorphic leaf renewal
strategies. An important guideline is that there are few if any mesembs, whatever their growth
categories, which are not active during moderate autumn weather. I emphasize, autumn should see
virtually all mesembs in growth. The only exceptions I can think of are some very late emerging
conophytum species and this only according to local climate.

The response to changing day lengths is known as photoperiodism. It is surely one of the most
important growth/dormancy inducing 'triggers' of mesembs. Actually, it is changes to the length
of the dark, not light period that is the trigger. High sunlight levels (and probably resultant heat)
as well as water stress can also encourage earlier dormancy in mesembs. Certainly, exposure to
generous amounts of sunlight can prompt some conophytum species (e.g. the notorious
Conophytum angelicae) into a very early dormancy (early August - still calendar winter) here in
Brisbane. It is evident that the stimuli that promote dormancy are somewhat more complicated
than those that start growth. Triggers such as photoperiod work whatever one's hemisphere, so an
obligate short day grower from southern Africa also grows as one in the northern hemisphere.

I believe there is no clear cut distinction between opportunistic species and most so-called summer
growers among mesembs. Many species that may be grown quite successfully as summer growers
in temperate latitudes grow and flower perfectly well throughout my winter season. Therefore, the
second major group of mesembs, including lithops, are best defined as opportunistic growers.
These plants will grow whenever conditions are suitable for them. For example, Bergeranthus,
Faucaria, Hereroa, Nananthus and Trichodiadema are typical, easy to maintain eastern species,
that grow +/- from spring to autumn in moderate climates but are best if given a high summer rest
I expect that in nature opportunistic species have a series of growth/resting phases within each
year according to rain events. They certainly do so in my garden subjected as it is to a highly erratic
climate. Therefore, in appropriately warm/hot climates we do not have to impose a single long,
harsh, rest period that is the accepted practice in colder climates. Two shorter, annual rest periods,
can work equally well as long as flowering is not impeded. In Israel, lithops are rested for two
months in winter and another two months in high summer.


I rest my case. Of course, if your winter seasons are long and cold there is no advantage, it is best
to rest opportunistic mesembs then...

Another important rule is that virtually all mesembs show a distinct preference to grow in moderate
weather conditions not very hot ones. I believe it is erroneous to think of mesembs as anything
like tropical plants. My plants absolutely do not like Brisbane summer heat, but it is very probable
that my hot, humid, summer nights are the crucial factor. I strongly suspect that mesembs will
cope better with very hot days if the following nights are substantially cooler. Of course in arid
regions nights are usually far colder than the days. One may summarise that heavy frost and lack
of sunlight aside, it is far easier to grow mesembs in cooler rather than in hotter climates.

This dislike of particularly hot weather is not unique to mesembs although it is particularly
noticeable among them. It also applies to many other so-called summer growers. Some cacti e.g.
Mammillaria species, tend to become dormant in my high summer but flower throughout my
winter season. Here they are easily lost to over watering in high summer; turning rapidly to mush.
Indeed a number of other succulent groups such as Echeveria show a distinct preference for growth
in cooler spring and autumn weather here.

Most mesembs require substantial amounts of sunlight; in fact their seed will only germinate if it
is not buried. It must be placed on the potting-mix surface and placed in a well lit position. I am
aware of only one report of a mesemb species that requires shade to enable germination.
Unfortunately, I cannot remember which species it was or where I read the report, perhaps in the
now defunct African Succulent Plant Society's Journal.
However, some plant-house summer shading is warranted in moderately sunny locations; it is
always wise to get advice from others who are growing mesembs in a very similar climate. But be
cautious, there can be large temperature differences even within the same city and this will affect
the amount of shade that your plants may need. In the Brisbane climate plant-house shading is
essential. I use 30% to 60% shade (cloth) with shade loving species (e.g. certain Conophytum,
Jensenobotrya and Namibia) receiving most protection. My experience is that most obligate short
day species cope far better with my summer heat and harsh insolation than opportunistic species.
They are of course at rest then.

Although mesembs originate from very sunny locations; their small size often facilitates growth
in shaded rock crevices etc., giving protection from drying winds and excess sunlight. Therefore,
it is not so surprising that it is very easy to overheat and "cook" them, especially small species (e.g.
lithops) whose small mass does not allow absorption of the large amounts of ambient heat that big
cacti can endure. If mesembs are cooked, they become white and rapidly turn to mush.
Consequently, in any climate that is seasonally hot, an excellent volume of plant house ventilation
is essential. You cannot give too much airflow and certainly, it is far better to increase ventilation
rather than shading; the latter will detract from the colouration of your plants. The better the
sunlight levels given, within reason of course, than the better your plants should look.

It is important to ensure that the sides of pots are not directly exposed to excess sunlight and heat,
especially if placed alongside the polycarbonate walls. I find it essential to insulate outer pot rows
with thick strips of polystyrene foam cut from fruit boxes.

Some growers use electric fans to cool mesembs in overheating plant-houses. I believe it is far
safer to have sufficient shade and ample ventilation; otherwise a single power failure could cause
disaster. In addition, I strongly suspect that the use of fans during very hot summer nights may
prove more beneficial than daytime use due to the Crassulacean Acid Metabolic pathway used by
many sphaeroid species. (Rowe 2004).

A pertinent mathematical rule is that for every doubling of a stem's diameter there is an eight fold
increase in its mass. Greater mass ensures a better capacity to absorb changes in surrounding
temperatures. It also permits storage of sometimes enormous volumes of water. Very large
succulents cannot survive in most mesemb habitats; there is simply not enough water to support
them. Large succulents will easily survive droughts that would kill most mesembs; however, when
their rains eventually arrive, many months or perhaps years later, they will tend to be deluges.
The mostly small to miniscule mesembs are adapted to survive on seasonally regular but very
meagre drizzles, fogs and dewfalls, or for some inland high veldt species, more erratic and mostly
late summer-season thunderstorms. Nevertheless it is erroneous to think of all the eastern parts of
the Cape Flora Region as receiving most rain as thunderstorms. The west to east trending, southern
coastal ranges also receive drizzles and fog from the prevailing south easterly trade winds...

Sphaeroid mesembs need far less light when they are dormant and sheathed, so at such times, they
may be moved to a far shadier position. For example, many growers place their conophyta under
plant-house benches during "summer" dormancy. However, for opportunistic lithops a rest period
is best imposed around the winter season in colder climates. It is during winter that the new plant-
body is forming inside the older body while absorbing its water and nutrients. In nature lithops can
withdraw underground during prolonged drought, so it is evident that light is not essential for them
at such times. One must of course be careful moving plants from shade to sunlight and care is
required when plants are suddenly exposed to strong sunlight after long spells of gloomy weather.
Always permit your plants time to acclimate with perhaps some temporary shadecloth. An ideal
method is to position plants so that they receive optimum light levels as the sun moves through its
annual cycle.

Diurnal nocturnal temperature differences seem to be very important to mesembs. They cope far
better with hot days if the night temperatures are noticeably cooler. There are some indications
from scientific studies that this should be at least 10C., cooler, probably far more in hotter regions.
Hence the overnight use of electric fans may help during uncomfortably hot summer nights. For
growers in temperate climates this day night temperature difference probably presents few

Humidity per se presents no problems for mesembs. In the moderate winter season of Auckland,
New Zealand, my plants were regularly moistened by heavy dewfalls that soon evaporated after
the onset of dawn. A wide assortment of mesembs grew perfectly well in such situations but one
must compensate for the wetter conditions by slightly reducing watering and increasing
ventilation. Yet having written this, there are growers in Brisbane that consider it is the
combination of high humidity AND heat that makes the cultivation of mesembs so challenging
It is evident that most mesemb species are extremely difficult to cultivate (under cover of course)
in the wet tropics. I am not aware of anyone who is successfully cultivating genera such as lithops
there, even if using air conditioning. They are certainly more challenging to cultivate in Brisbane
than in cold-temperate climates (providing some frost protection be given. In my experience,
cultivation was easiest in a mild Mediterranean-like climate without severe frosts, where
temperatures very rarely rose above 28C. Of course, glasshouse temperatures would provide some
frost protection but add to the higher end of the scale. However, may I emphasize that mesembs
are eminently suited to plant-house or window sill cultivation in temperate climates. Most species
are able to tolerate quite cold conditions if kept suitably dry.

Potting mixes and much more

Contrary to some reports, mesembs may be grown very successfully in a wide range of potting
media. A typical potting mix suitable for a broad range of climates would be comprised of 1/3
coarse sand, 1/3 topsoil (or loam), and 1/3 pure organics such as humus, leaf mould, sphagnum
peat or coconut coir. Another mesemb potting mix is comprised of 1/2 coarse sand and 1/2 topsoil
or loam. A loam by horticultural definition contains some organics; but this is usually a very low
percentage of soil volume.

The amounts of ingredients used are a guide only and are varied according to the quality of the
materials and the specific requirements of more demanding species. One should have a mix that is
well aerated and drained but will hold enough soil water reserves to allow the plants to absorb
sufficient water before it inevitably dries. This water holding capacity is important in hotter, arid
climates for both summer growing and summer dormant species.

The use of organic components does increase the risk of attack by plant pathogens and some
organics such as peat can decompose to a toxic sludge very rapidly if one's water is alkaline. It
follows that mixes containing more than small quantities of peat may require annual repotting. On
the other hand, organics assist in the supply and regulation of water and nutrients as well as
improve the thermal qualities of a mix. A small quantity of clay will also assist with nutrient supply
because is has a high cation exchange capacity (CEC) but a well structured soil will contain quite
sufficient quantities.

Purely mineral-based mixes such as 12 sand and 12 soil should not need annual repotting;
therefore, plants may be left in them for some years. This can be quite useful for slow growing
sphaeroids and busy collectors. One downside is that if the mix is too compact, it can be a very
challenging media for the novice (and for your plants). So ensure your mix is kept porous and
somewhat friable (loose). This is connected with another potential problem; the thermal quality of
the mix. This matter has received virtually no attention in horticultural circles, yet with the current
rise in global temperatures, it does require increasing consideration. In climates with high sunlight
levels, a mix of only sand and soil has the potential to absorb far too much heat. This can severely
stress one's plants and more importantly it can cause root death or cook them. It may also
encourage freezing in seasonally frigid climates. The cure is very simple; one replaces some of the
coarse sand with a porous, hence insulating media such as diatomite (baked diatomaceous earth
granules) perlite, pumice, or finer grades of scoria. Perlite with its enclosed pore structure is
particularly useful. Organics also provide some thermal insulation to a potting mix.

Pot mulches or toppings can help or hinder. In hot climates, pebbles, especially larger, dark, heat
absorbent ones can encourage the "cooking" of plants such as lithops, while a top layer of a whitish
insulating media (e.g. pumice) will provide a measure of light reflection, thereby assisting its
thermal protection values. This is particularly important for embedded species such as lithops.
Many growers here in Brisbane, have sadly learnt how dangerous it can be to use pebble mulches
around lithops.

Many authors state that mesembs need little fertiliser especially nitrogen. I do not entirely agree
with this because reports from South Africa (von Willert et. al.) indicate that mesemb habitats
often have quite enough reserves of nutrients including nitrogen. Bark based mixes so popular here
among hobbyists often suffer from an acute shortage of nitrogen because the bacteria that "eat"
wood use it during the process. This is called nitrogen drawdown and this and other nutrients will
not become available again until the soil's bacteria die and decompose. By that time your mix may
be in a very sorry state.

Never the less, it is usually best to use low nitrogen fruit and flower formulae rather than high-
nitrogen lawn mixtures. I am not at all stingy in my application of fertiliser but I do control excess
uptake with my watering regime. The Brisbane climate also helps to ensure my plants do not
become lush. I find the easiest way to fertilise is to use a slow-release resin coated product such as
Osmocote in the potting mix. My base fertiliser preference is for an expensive formula designed
for a two-year nutrient supply for mesic plants. These products release a fraction of their content
into the potting mix with each watering. Therefore, one may control fertiliser uptake with one's
watering regime. It should last far longer than when used for water needy plants. No single brand
or formulation of fertiliser will suit all species at all times so one may also add soluble fertiliser to
one's watering schedule for specific situations. Fertilising is an intricate art.

I only use clay pots for a very few species that I wish to grow particularly hard, for example a few
Glottiphyllum species. Some can attain beautiful red colouration when grown with little water in
strong sunlight. With less sunlight and more water they become green and 'bloated'. Both
conditions do occur naturally in their native habitats. Clay pots have their use in cooler climes
where their ability to evaporate water faster than plastic pots may be an advantage.

Many of the sphaeroids especially conophyta may be grown in very tiny pots but the smaller the
pot, the more attention that must be paid to its position and watering schedule. A plant in a very
tiny pot is far more vulnerable to your environmental inputs. Pay some attention to each plants
root system prior to repotting. This will indicate what size pot should be provided. Plants with
tuberous roots such as Aloinopsis, Caulipsolon, Deilanthe, Mestoklema, Nananthus, Prepodesma,
Rabiea, Titanopsis, and Trichodiadema will sometimes require slightly larger pots then most
others. Both Fenestraria prefer somewhat larger shallower pans of about 10 -15 cm.

This is the most challenging of all mesemb horticultural subjects. It requires the integration of a
number of basic guidelines or rules.

The first rule of watering mesembs is to water or not to enable correct completion of the annual
growth cycle and especially so for dimorphic leaved plants.

One waters when the plants are growing but gives little or none when they are dormant. Over-
watered mesembs can retain too many leaf pairs (stacking) or worse still, they may rot.
Experienced mesembophiles do not allow stacking.

Now a little digression; before Tanquana was split from its 'parent' genus Pleiospilos, it was often
recommended that they were all summer growers. At that time, I was living in a warm temperate
climate that permitted winter-season growth so I did not agree with this. I used a watering regime
intended, repeat intended, to encourage short day growth with a drier high-summer rest for both
genera. Nowadays, it is common knowledge that Tanquana alone are more suited to short day
growth. Yet plants from both genera grew and flowered perfectly well. I believe the reason for my
success was that I was actually following the innate needs of my plants. At that point in the yearly
cycle when the new Pleiospilos leaf pair was judged about 2/3 fully grown. I automatically eased
off on watering to allow leaf renewal to proceed correctly without undue stacking. It follows that
it is not essential to know the preferred growth season of a species to be able to maintain it

Another important rule is that water should generally be supplied moderately but regularly for a
number of reasons. One of these is simply because it is very easy to rupture mesemb leaves or
plant bodies. These are not plants adapted to a deluge to drought cycle. Some genera are far more
sensitive to a single over watering than most others. For example, Argyroderma and Tanquana are
sensitive while and Gibbaeum nebrownii and Vanheerdea primosii are difficult. However, if you
are rupturing the leaf surfaces of Fenestraria, Pleiospilos or non-windowed Conophytum species
you are overindulging your plants. Ruptured leaves will usually heal, albeit badly scarred but with
the annual growth of new leaf-pairs, one's plants should recover completely and flawlessly.

Probably every single mesemb species is able to recycle nutrients and water from older leaves to
more important structures including seed capsules. This is an important survival strategy among
mesembs and it now takes us to species that have refined this technique to an amazing degree.
Some of these fascinating species have dimorphic leaves that differ considerably in size and shape.
Dimorphic simply means two forms or shapes. One leaf pair is used in the growing season while
the other is used to survive the dry season. The conjoined or united leaf pair that is designed to
survive the dry season is best described as a plant body. Watering regimes should permit the correct
sequence of these leaves. In some examples this is done by allowing the old leaf pair to dry to a
paper-like bag or resting sheath). Prime examples are species of Dicrocaulon, Mitrophyllum,
Monilaria, and dimorphic species of Antimima and Cheiridopsis. All dimorphic leaved species are
obligate short day growers.

Conophytum and lithops also perform leaf renewal to a resting sheath stage but their leaves are
not dimorphic, except for some minor differences between immature and adult forms. There is an
important horticultural difference between lithops and conophytum that seems anomalous to
observant cultivators but it does work. Lithops are generally kept dry throughout winter-season
leaf renewal and watering is recommenced with the arrival of suitably warm spring weather
coincident with sufficient drying of the old plant body.
Yet conophytum are watered throughout leaf renewal. Here watering is withheld from spring
onwards as these species enter an obligate dormancy phase and remain hidden beneath their resting
sheaths throughout most of the earlier summer season.

So why are there such differences between the two genera? I believe the first reason is that lithops
are opportunistic growers while conophytum are, obligate short day growers. The difference may
seem ambiguous but it is very probably the factor that has allowed Lithops to colonise such an
enormous area of southern Africa. The second difference SEEMS to be that lithops are far more
sensitive than conophytum to watering during leaf renewal in cool/cold climates. Certainly that is
the impression that I have from many anecdotal reports, however, I suspect that this is primarily

Another basic rule already mentioned, is that mesembs need moderate yet regular watering during
their annual growing period. This does not mean that you can never give mesembs a significant
soaking but you must choose very suitable warm, dry, opportunities. An appreciable soak followed
by a cloudy wet spell can cause leaf bursting or rot. Occasional soakings may assist in the removal
of excess salts from pots.

Watering of obligate short day growers is also challenging in colder, cloudier climates. Here one
must make use of all warmer sunnier periods, so most growth and flowering will probably occur
on either side of the darkest, shortest days of mid winter.

I will now explore this subject of watering in some depth because it is so difficult for the amateur
to acquire a good understanding of the varied climates where mesembs occur.

Mesemb short day growers are adapted to a climatic regime where water is often very sparse but
is seasonally extremely regular. Their provenance is the winter-season rain/fog belt along southern
Africa's, Atlantic Ocean coastline. Drizzle in the Knersvlakte, southern Namaqualand, one of the
driest regions, is only about two inches (5 cm.) annually. It has been estimated that additional
moisture from persistent fogs and heavy dewfall may double this scant supply.

Without doubt, the rains for most of the western Cape Floral Region are very reliable compared to
virtually all other arid regions of our world. In rarer years the rains do not arrive and many
mesembs perforce must die. They are simply not able to cope with the far more erratic climates
that large cacti are able to survive so easily. Entire mesemb populations can be lost to drought but
they repopulate rapidly from seed reserves following the first suitable rain events.

Species such as conophytum often occur in rock crevices that both concen- trate and then retain
fog and dewfall in humus. It is common practice among growers to emulate fog with frequent
spray misting. Steven Hammer the leading conophytum expert wears out spray bottles in mere

The fascinating Fenestraria with their windowed leaves will grow vigorously on little more than
mist sprays. These are extremely water use efficient plants but I am not positive they are obligate
short day growers. Regardless a combination of hot summer weather and a single soaking can soon
kill them, so the question is purely rhetorical. However, I do wonder if some (many?) mesembs
are obligated to short day growth in the Brisbane climate not due to inbuilt "triggers" but due to
other factors; perhaps heat sensitive metabolic enzymes.

Studies have shown that summer dormant Cape Flora geophytes (bulbs etc) are able to absorb
water from occasional out-of-season rain events. It enables them to better survive the dry season.
My experience tells me that most mesembs will also benefit from occasional watering in suitable
conditions (mild weather periods) during summer dormancy. One gives enough water to ensure
survival but never enough to force growth.

The increasingly erratic rainfall further inland in southern Africa is often characterized as falling
in summer. As far as I can ascertain very few mesemb habitats receive truly adequate rain
throughout calendar summer. Rainfall will fall predominantly in autumn, while in other areas it
falls primarily in spring and again in autumn. Regardless, even if summer season rainfall is spread
equally, it may be far more useful for active growth when weather conditions are milder. Most of
the geophytic plants in the western Cape Floral Region that coexist with many mesemb species
are short day growers while those in more eastern regions are late "summer" growers. I quote
Manning, Goldblatt & Snijman, 2000, "Despite these variations (in local rainfall), midsummer is
the period of greatest stress for plants across the entire Cape Floral Region, and the hot windy
conditions during summer are extremely desiccating, even on the cooler upper slopes. In
consequence the majority of Cape bulbs are short day growers". To me this indicates that in habitat
"summer growing" mesembs probably grow primarily in milder weather either side of high
summer. This has certainly been my finding in the Brisbane climate where most mesembs are best
grown with a high summer rest. Those of you in climates with a colder winter season and milder
summers will not see this response.

It is now evident that most mesembs are more or less suited to a Mediterranean climate; one with
cool damp winters and hot dry summers. Of course many of the challenging species come from
habitats with far less rainfall than many Mediterranean regions. Although they are generally
accustomed to mild winters, one should not water them in potentially freezing conditions. In cool
weather it is best to water on sunny mornings while in warmer weather, it is best to water in the
evening. Some species close their stomata during hotter daylight hours but open them from
evening until shortly after dawn while conditions remain cooler. Watering one's plants in the
evening may assist the use of this crassulacean acid metabolic (CAM.) pathway. (Rowe 2004).

One must also be careful when watering opportunist mesembs in extremely hot conditions. This
can be one of the most difficult balancing acts of their culture. Very hot weather (especially hot
nights?) seems to induce at least a temporary measure of dormancy. One cannot be positive that
the plants are truly dormant at such times but regardless, a combination of high temperatures and
water can easily cause rot. One must give just enough water to keep root systems healthy and your
plants not too dehydrated. This I stress is best done during cooler weather episodes. As soon as the
weather moderates or if nights become cooler, then watering may be resumed and the plants
rapidly recover.

The water needs of the approximately 1,700 species (http://www.mesembs.org/) vary immensely.
For example 'shrubby' species such as Delosperma, Drosanthemum and Lampranthus are often
grown in gardens for their gorgeous flowers. In the moderate climate of Auckland, New Zealand,
these species produce stunning masses of spring flowers that hide the plants completely.
Furthermore, this is achieved after enduring a cool and very damp winter season. Most of these
species will also grow and flower when planted out in Brisbane as long as additional water is given
in our drier weather. At the other extreme are the challenging species such as Lithops or
Conophytum burgeri that need but one or two waterings each year in colder climates.

If your plants are in flower then your growing conditions are evidently suitable, so keep watering
but bear in mind that for some species flowering can indicate the end of their growing season.

In a number of conophyta species, flowers break through the resting sheath some months prior to
their actual growth season.
Some mesemb species may need watering to help break their dormancy while others will self
indicate their need for water by bursting from their sheath, although this presupposes that you have
been correctly misting your conophyta etc. through dormancy.

This brings us to another guideline. Always work with your climate, not against it. Permit your
plants to utilise your optimal climatic conditions. If your climate has long dark winters, let your
plants grow as much as they prefer into or throughout high summer. On the other hand if you have
exceedingly hot summers let your plants grow more into winter. You may test genera/species
unknown to you by watering primarily in all moderate sunny weather around spring and again in
autumn. Your plants will signal where they wish to go from there; experience is learning to read
and respond correctly to these signs.

Further Reading
Beyer, Uwe 1997. Grundlagen zur Mesembkultur Erkenntnisse eines Sukkulentengrtners.
Teil I Die anderen Sukkulenten Jahrg. 15:29, S. 7-15, 1997.
Teil II Die anderen Sukkulenten Jahrg. 15:30, S. 6-12, 1997.
Manning, Goldblatt & Snijman, 2000. The Color Encyclopaedia of Cape Bulbs, Timber Press,
Cambridge, UK.
Rowe 2004. An Introduction to Photosynthetic Pathways. Mesemb Study Group Bulletin. Vol 19
No 1 January 2004.

I wish to thank Lindsey Deaves, UK. Ivan Boldyrev, Russia. Dan Downey,
USA. Ian Nartowicz, UK and Ken (Platonia) USA.
All members of http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MESEMBS/
for invaluable proof readings, suggestions and corrections.

3. Seasons And Categories

Written by Didge Rowe
Saturday, 18 December 2010 21:45
Cultivating Mesembryanthema in New Zealand, Part 10.

Growing seasons
This list uses rainfall data gleaned primarily from the Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants,
2000. The rainfall seasons give a crude indication of a genera's preferred growing season when
referred to one's own local climate.

The category column is often a guess because for many species, I have not been able to ascertain
if their growth is opportunistic or obligate. If they grow and flower well in Auckland or Brisbane,
throughout the shorter days of each yearly cycle, then that information is all that I have needed.
An excellent example that illustrates this line of reasoning is Fenestraria. In both cities, it gives
every indication of being an obligate winter-grower (it rots very readily if over-watered in hot
weather). Yet in winter-frigid northern England, Fenestraria may be grown throughout the
summer-season. The list therefore is biased from my experience obtained in warmer climates.
Mesembs are cool-moist opportunists, not hot-moist opportunists. They certainly are nothing like
tropical plants that thrive in hot-moist conditions.

Wherever you are in New Zealand, hopefully, you should be growing enough representative
species from this list, to give you insights into the growing seasons of others. For example if
Braunsia grows best for you in the autumn or entire winter-season, then most others in the Mar
& Nov peaks category will probably do the same to a greater or lesser degree. Most growth will
occur in autumn followed by spring with extensions of the growing period either into winter in
warmer, sunnier places, or throughout summer in winter-frigid places.

The right hand column gives the possible growth season for Auckland. I have not grown every
genus in Auckland, so some are (well-educated) guesses. I must stress that these are very imprecise
guidelines. For example, species that grow primarily in autumn e.g. Dinteranthus, Lapidaria and
Lithops (all lithops group) should be kept drier during their winter leaf-renewal but will need some
watering in warmer spring weather to prepare them for a short summer rest (in warmer regions).
Some Conophytum will grow from very late summer through fall but they cope better than lithops
with light watering/misting throughout milder winter weather.

Many species will enter dormancy after they have flowered; therefore, this is often a signal to
reduce watering. Other species such as Schwantesia (also lithops group) flower over a longer
period than Lapidaria for example, so watering should correspond. Of course, should any species
attempt to keep growing and flowering all year (Prepodesma orpenii does so in Brisbane) then
impose a rest at the most optimum time; that of course would be winter in most of New Zealand
but high summer in Brisbane.
Many of the shrubby species such as Lampranthus are so adaptable that they can be grown
outdoors in northern regions of New Zealand. Where I have shown a genus as Outdoors? keep a
plant under cover but take cuttings and try the species planted out.

The title Short Day means that growth will start at sometime after the summer solstice when days
are beginning to shorten. For some conophytum, this can be very early for most other species it
will be sometime in autumn.

The title Autumn means that most growth can be achieved in that season. Reduce watering during
leaf renewal in winter and again in high summer unless your winters are long and harsh. In mild
to warm locations, give some spring watering to prepare the plants for a short high-summer rest.

The title Summer means that these plants should grow throughout the entire summer season.
However, there may be a tendency to high summer rest in hot aridaria.

Genus Rainfall Category Auckland

Acrodon All seasons Opportunist Short Day
Aethephyllum Winter Obligate short day Short Day
Aloinopsis Mar & Nov peaks Opportunist Short Day
Amphibolia Winter Opportunist Outdoors?
Antegibbaeum Mar & Nov peaks Opportunist Short Day
Antimima # (dimorphs) Winter Obligate short day Short Day
Antimima # (others) Winter& Summer? Opportunist Outdoors?
Apatesia Winter Obligate short day Short Day
Aptenia Summer Opportunist Outdoors?
Arenifera Winter Opportunist Outdoors?
Argyroderma Winter Obligate short day Short Day
Aridaria Both Opportunist Short Day
Aspazoma Winter Obligate short day Short Day
Astridia Winter or Mar only Opportunist Short Day
Bergeranthus Summer inc Feb Opportunist Summer
Bijlia Mar & Nov. peaks Opportunist Short Day
Braunsia Mar & Nov. peaks Opportunist Short Day
Brianhuntleya Winter Opportunist Short Day
Brownanthus Winter or summer Opportunist? Short Day
Carpanthea Winter Obligate short day Short Day
Carpobrotus All seasons Opportunist Outdoors
Carruanthus Mar & Nov. peaks Opportunist Short Day
Caryotophora All seasons Opportunist Summer
Caulipsolon Winter Obligate short day Short Day
Cephalophyllum # (most) Winter Opportunist Short Day
Cephalophyllum # (few) Summer Opportunist Outdoors?
Cerochlamys Mar & Nov. peaks Opportunist Short Day
Chasmatophyllum Mar & Nov. peaks Opportunist Summer
Cheiridopsis# (dimorphs) Winter Obligate short day Short Day
Cheiridopsis# (part) Mar & Nov peaks Opportunist? Short Day
Cleretum Winter Obligate short day Short Day
Conicosia Winter Obligate short day Outdoors?
Conophytum-most # autumn or Winter Obligate short day Short Day
Conophytum herreanthus # Winter Opportunist Short Day
Conophytum ophthalmo # Mar & Nov peaks Obligate short day Short Day
Corpuscularia All year Opportunist Summer
Dactylopsis Winter Obligate Short Day Short Day
Deilanthe Mar & Nov peaks Opportunist Short Day
Delosperma cooperi etc. # All summer Obligate long day Outdoors
Delosperma echinatum # Summer? Opportunist Outdoors?
Dicrocaulon Winter Obligate Short day Short Day
Didymaotus Mar & Nov. peaks Opportunist Short Day
Dinteranthus Mar & Mar & Nov. peaks Opportunist Autumn
Diplosoma Winter Obligate short day Short Day
Disphyma All seasons Opportunist Outdoors
Dorotheanthus Winter Obligate short day Short Day
Dracophilus Winter Opportunist Short Day
Drosanthemum Mostly winter Opportunist Outdoors
Eberlanzia Winter Opportunist Short Day
Ebracteola Summer incl Feb Opportunist Summer
Enarganthe Winter Opportunist Short Day
Erepsia (Fynbos) Winter Opportunist Outdoors?
Esterhuysenia Winter Opportunist Outdoors?
Faucaria # All summer Opportunist Summer
Faucaria # Mar & Nov Peaks Opportunist Summer
Fenestraria Winter Opportunist Short Day
Frithia All summer Obligate summer? Summer
Gibbaeum spheroids # Mar & Nov. peaks Obligate short day Short Day
Gibbaeum robust spp. # Mar & Nov peaks Opportunist Short Day
Glottiphyllum Mar & Nov. peaks Opportunist Short Day
Hallianthus Winter Opportunist Short Day
Hammeria Mar & Nov. peaks Opportunist Short Day
Hartmanthus Autumn & Winter Opportunist Short Day
Hereroa Mainly Mar&Nov. peaks Opportunist Summer?
Hymenogyne Winter Opportunist Short Day?
Ihlenfeldtia Mar & Nov. peaks Opportunist Short Day
Jacobsenia Winter Obligate short day Short Day
Jensenobotrya Winter Opportunist Short Day
Jordaaniella Winter Opportunist Outdoors?
Juttadinteria Winter Opportunist Short Day
Khadia Summer incl Feb Opportunist Summer
Lampranthus Wetter winter rains Opportunist Outdoors
Lapidaria Mainly march. Opportunist Autumn
Leipoldtia Winter Opportunist Outdoors
Lithops # (most) Summer (varied) Opportunist Spring & Autumn
Lithops optica # etc. Winter Opportunist Autumn
Machairophyllum (Fynbos) Mar & Nov. peaks Opportunist Optional?
Malephora Summer & winter Opportunist Outdoors
Marlothistella Summer &Mar/Nov Opportunist Summer?
Mesembryanthemum Winter Obligate short day Short Day
Mestoklema All Summer Opportunist Summer
Meyerophytum Winter Obligate short day Short Day
Mitrophyllum Winter Obligate short day Short Day
Monilaria Winter Obligate short day Short Day
Mossia All Summer Opportunist? Summer?
Muiria Mar & Nov peaks Obligate short day Short Day
Namaquanthus Winter Opportunist Short Day
Namibia Winter Obligate short day Short Day
Nananthus All Summer Opportunist Autumn
Nelia Winter Opportunist Short Day
Neohenricia All Summer Opportunist Summer
Octopoma Winter&Mar&Nov peaks Opportunist Outdoors?
Odontophorus Winter Opportunist Short Day
Oophytum Winter Obligate short day Short Day
Orthopterum All seasons Opportunist Summer
Oscularia Winter Opportunist Outdoors?
Ottosonderia Winter Obligate short day? Short Day
Peersia Mar & Nov peaks Opportunist Short Day
Phiambolia Winter Opportunist Outdoors?
Phyllobolus # Winter Obligate short day Short Day
Phyllobolus # Summer Opportunist? Short Day
Pleiospilos nelii only Mar & Nov peaks Opportunist Short Day
Pleiospilos others Mar & Nov peaks Opportunist Optional
Polymita Edge winter rain Opportunist Outdoors
Prenia Winter and/or summer? Opportunist Outdoors?
Prepodesma orpenii Summer Opportunist Summer
Psammophora Winter Opportunist Short Day
Psilocaulon Winter & summer Opportunist Short Day
Rabiea Mainly Summer Opportunist Summer
Rhinephyllum Mar & Nov. peaks Opportunist Short Day
Rhombophyllum Summer incl Feb Opportunist Summer
Ruschia s.s. Winter Opportunist Outdoors
Ruschianthemum Winter Opportunist Short Day
Ruschianthus Winter Opportunist Short Day?
Ruschiella Winter Opportunist Short Day
Saphesia Winter Obligate short day? Short Day
Sarcozona Mediterranean-like Opportunist Outdoors
Sceletium Winter & summer Opportunist Outdoors?
Schlechteranthus Winter Opportunist Short Day
Schwantesia Mar & Nov. peaks Opportunist Short Day
Scopelogena Winter Opportunist Short Day
Skiatophytum Winter Opportunist Short Day
Smicrostigma Mar & Nov. peaks Opportunist Short Day
Stayneria (Fynbos) Mar & Nov. Opportunist Short Day
Stoeberia Winter Opportunist Short Day
Stomatium Mar & Nov. peaks Opportunist Short Day
Synaptophyllum Winter Obligate short day? Short Day
Tanquana Mar & Nov. peaks Opportunist Short Day
Titanopsis calcarea Mar & Nov peaks Opportunist Short Day
Titanopsis schwantesii Summer Opportunist Optional
Titanopsis hugo-schlechteri Winter Opportunist Short Day
Trichodiadema Summer incl Feb Opportunist Summer
Vanheerdea Mar and Nov peaks Opportunist Short Day
Vanzijlia Winter Opportunist Short Day
Vlokia (Fynbos) Mar and Nov peaks Opportunist Summer?
Wooleya Winter Opportunist Short Day
Zeuktophyllum Mar and Nov peaks Opportunist Short Day

4. Growing Under Lights

Written by Kurt W. Pott. / Tuesday, 14 December 2010 21:2

To be successful at growing plants under lights, you have to consider basically three areas:
1. Spectrum
2. Intensity
3. Photo period

The spectrum of light that plants need must include reddish light and bluish light. The bluish light
is for foliage growth, and the red light is for flowering. Most plants, including mesembs need
about equal amounts of red and blue light, and don't really need green or yellow light. Fluorescent
lights come in two main types which are "warm" and toward the red end of the light spectrum or
"cool" which is toward the blue end of the spectrum.

What is needed is equal amounts of both types. When the bulbs are on, if they are warm and toward
the red end of the spectrum, they will look, reddish or orange or pink, and if they are toward the
blue end of the spectrum, they will look, bluish-white. Grow lights specifically called "growlights"
and manufactured and sold for that purpose, look purple, which is a perfect combination of the red
and blue, unfortunately, they are much more expensive than ordinary fluorescent bulbs and to
achieve the red-blue balance they reduce the intensity of either red or blue through filtering by
tinting the glass of the tube. It is much cheaper, and you will have more intensity at the same time,
to get the red and blue from two different bulbs that don't filter than from one which does filter.

Also, now you can buy CFLs. (compact fluorescent lights). They plug into an ordinary
incandescent light bulb fixture, and their spiral fluorescent bulb is somewhat the shape of an
incandescent light bulb.

This brings us to intensity, which needs to be quite high in order to promote good growth and
flowering in some plants, especially those plants (like the mesembs) that naturally grow under full
sun, or near full sun. Although possible to get by with only 1 warm and 1 cool fluorescent tube, a
minimum of 2 warm and 2 cool is much better, and naturally, more of each is even better. With
the CFL bulbs you can get a lot of intensity .

Photoperiod is the ratio of light hours to dark hours. The two extremes being Winter with its short
days and long nights and Summer with its long days and short nights, and Spring and Fall half way
in between.

I grow mesembs under lights quite successfully with a 4 tube setup (2 warm, 2 cool) with the lights
only 2 to 4 inches above the plants. I also use CFLs for one of my shelves. The photoperiod I
control with a timer according to the following schedule which is similar to what it would be north
or south of the equator at about the same latitudes as England in the north and South Africa in the

- light dark

January 11 13
February 12 12
March 13 11
April 14 10
May 15 9
June 16 8
July 15 9
August 14 10
September 13 11
October 12 12
November 11 13
December 10 14

Because the intensity needed for my mesembs to flower is very high, and the plants usage of light
is sort of like a mathematical formula:

usefull_light_to_the_plant = light_intensity x hours_of_light

In other words, it is the same effective useful light to a plant to give it a certain intensity for a
certain number of hours as it would be to give it light at half that intensity for twice as long. In
other words, to a point, you can make up for lack of intensity by keeping the lights on longer. To
a point, though, because you are altering the ratio of dark to light at the same time, and some plants
need a certain number of hours of dark or light to flower properly, and to know when to flower.

The above schedule works for me to give my mesembs enough intensity while at the same time
preserving enough photoperiodicity to trigger appropriate and abundant flowering of most
mesembs. If you have more than 2 warm tubes and 2 cool tubes, or use CFLs, you can have the
lights on less of a day and still give the plants an appropriate amount of useful light. The following
is such a schedule, and basically is the one which mimics how it would be along the earth's equator:

- light dark

January 10 14
February 11 13
March 12 12
April 13 11
May 14 10
June 15 9
July 14 10
August 13 11
September 12 12
October 11 13
November 10 14
December 9 15

Even if I had more than a 2 warm tube and 2 cool tube setup for my mesembs, I would keep the
first schedule just because it most closely approximates that of southern Africa, where the
mesembs naturally grow.

Also, as a side note, I always put the warm bulbs to the outsides and the cool bulbs on the inside,
because in nature, the rising and setting sun are more reddish than midday sun. Whether this little
fine point matters much or not, I have never really determined.

There is enough basic data in this article to start you experimenting yourself.

by Kurt W. Pott / Copyright 1990

Most information on plant culture gives specifics for culture of specific plants. You'll learn what
temperature range, light intensity, humidity, how to water, what kind of growing medium to use,
Although this is very helpful information, what do you do if you follow the specific directions and
you still have a problem with your plant?

This manual avoids specific information on specific plants, but gives specific information which
is true of all plants. Understanding plant parts and the processes which occur in them, and the
environmental factors which influence them, are necessary to properly diagnose plant problems.

This manual is not meant to replace those with specific information about specific plants, but is
meant to be used in conjunction with them. With both types of information, you'll not only
understand the specifics for specific plants, but you'll also understand why these specifics are
This manual is not meant for those who are complete beginners to plant culture. Readers of this
manual should be familiar with some cultural concepts and terminology.

Some words or concepts used in earlier sections of this manual are not explained until later
sections. It may be necessary to read this entire manual more than once to completely understand.
Do not despair, all will be made clear...eventually.

It will be very helpful for successfully growing and flowering your plants to understand something
about the major parts of a plant and the processes which occur in them. The major parts are: roots,
stems, leaves, and flowers. Almost all plants have some sort of root system, most have flowers,
and many have leaves and stems. Some plants, like cacti, combine leaves and stems into one
structure; some have leaves without stems.

There are two main functions of the roots. One is support and anchorage, and the other is
absorbtion of mineral nutrients, water, and oxygen. A third function, which may not exist in all
plants, is food and water storage.
Many plant roots have root hairs (usually at the tips). These hairs are extremely delicate, and the
roots are quite delicate, and either can be easily cut or broken. They are also susceptable to
dehydration from lack of moisture around them, or rotting due to excess moisture around them, or
burning by fertilizing too often, or by using fertilizer which is too strong.

Stems perform four functions. One is to transport water, mineral nutrients, and oxygen (dissolved
in the water taken in through the roots) to all parts of the plant.If the plant stores food and water,
the stems transport them to the particular storage areas of the plant. The second function is to
transport growth hormones (produced at the stem tips) to the various parts. The third function is
to support leaves and flowers, and to define leaf and flower placement. The fourth function is to
be itself a storage area for some plants.

Leaves have three functions. The first is to manufacture plant useable food by photosynthesis, and
the second is to provide a surface for evaporative cooling as the water taken in by the roots exits
pores in the leaves (transpiration). The third function is to act as a storage area.
Flowers serve one function and that is reproduction, and that being the production of seeds, or fruit
and then seeds. Many plants can reproduce themselves in other ways besides flowers and seeds.
Some of these ways are to produce offshoots; to reproduce from cuttings of leaves and/or stems;
and to produce roots along stems first, which then can be removed (stem and roots together) and
grown. These roots may be produced on foliage stems or flower stems. Flower stems and their
flowers are called inflorescences.
The factors which will affect the plant parts and the processes which occur in them can be
conveniently divided into five main areas: atmospheric needs, light needs, growing media, ways
to water, and pests and diseases.

These are the areas which are controllable to a great degree and will determine the condition and
growth of the roots, stems, leaves, and flowers. These also determine if the plant processes will be
efficiently carried out.

Atmospheric needs can be conveniently divided into three areas: relative humidity, temperature,
and air circulation.

Light needs can be conveniently divided into three areas: intensity, photoperiod, and quality.

Growing media needs can be conveniently divided into two main areas: nutritious growing media,
and nutritionless, or inert, growing media. For the nutritious growing media plain water is used,
and for the inert media nutritious water is used. Nutritious water can be made by mixing any
number of commercially available watersoluable fertilizers in with the water, and hereafter will be
referred to as a nutrient solution. Both the nutritional and nutritionless media must be in the
appropriate PH range for the specific plant.

There are three major nutrients all plants need in varying amounts, and these are: nitrogen (N),
phosphorous (P), and potassium (K). The labels on most fertilizer containers usually have the N-
P-K ratio on them. For example: Miracle-Gro has 15-30-15 on its label. This means 15 parts
nitrogen as compared to 30 parts phosphorous, as compared to 15 parts potassium. There are minor
elements such as sulphur, calcium, and iron, to name a few. There are even less needed elements
called trace elements, such as molybdenum. Sudbury sells nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium
(sometimes called potash) in separate packages allowing you to mix any ratio you want. Nitrogen
promotes good foliage growth, phosphorous promotes good root and flower growth, and potassium
promotes good cell structure in roots, stems, foliage, and flowers.

It is possible to use no medium at all and just dip or soak the plant periodically, or continually if
its roots can tolerate being submerged in water continually. If a medium is used it must have
adequate drainage and aeration, unless the plant can tolerate its roots submerged in water

Ways to water can be conveniently divided into four ways: top watering, bottom watering,
spraying or misting, and soaking or flushing.

I have not had much problem with disease that a good fungicide like Benomyl or Benlate could
not solve; and as for insects, Malathion works well. Otherwise, consult a reputable plant dealer in
your area and follow his advice and the instructions on the label of any remedial product he may

The four main plant processes are: transpiration, photosynthesis, respiration, and hormone effects.

This is the process by which the roots take in water, which then flows up through the stems, and
exits the leaves. This is accomplished by means of osmosis at the roots, capillary action in the
stems, and evaporation out of the leaves.
Molecular movement without any natural or unnatural source of pressure always occurs from the
substance with the higher concentration to the substance with the lower concentration until both
substances hold equal concentrations and movement ceases (equilibrium).

Relative humidity is the factor which directly affects the rate of transpiration. It is the percentage
of how much water the air is holding compared to how much the air could hold. The relative
humidity is affected by air temperature and circulation.

Plant needs for relative humidity vary. Some need yearly variation, some do not. Some need
day/night variation, some do not. Some need seasonal variation, some do not. The same can be
said about temperature needs. Use natural habitat or experimentation as a guide.
The higher the air temperature, the more water it can hold; and thus the relative humidity is lower,
but can be potentially higher.

The higher the air circulation, the more water it can hold; and thus the relative humidity is lower,
but can be potentially higher.

Also, temperature and air circulation affect each other. The higher the air circulation, the lower the
temperature is to the plant (wind chill). Most plants benefit from consistently fresh air, but hot or
cold drafts are generally detrimental if too extreme.

In nature, air circulation varies continually day or night, but generally, temperature is lower at
night due to the setting sun and its associated heat. Therefore, as the sun sets and as the night air
cools, the relative humidity rises until the coolest temperature is reached, usually an hour or two
before sunrise. If the air temperature cools enough, the result is precipitation (rain, dew, snow, or

Putting all this information on transpiration together, as relative humidity rises, transpiration slows
until at some point (90%-100%) it ceases because equilibrium between the water concentration in
the air equals the concentration exiting the leaves. Approaching 100%, the concentration in the air
may exceed that in the leaves, and then the leaves (and possibly the roots if exposed to such
humidity) begin to take in water from the air (reverse transpiration).

For a plant to be healthy, more water must be taken in than exits out. Some reverse transpiration
is not harmful to a plant, but this should not happen too often or too long. Actually, some of both
are probably needed, or at least tolerated, but the normal direction of ground to roots to stems to
leaves to air is more common.

Transpiration from the leaf surface also functions to cool the plant tissues through evaporation if
conditions are too hot. Due to night cooling and its resulting high relative humidity rise,
transpiration generally slows during the night. (There is usually less need for evaporative cooling
at night also.)

Transpiration is the most basic plant process, and without it, the other processes of photosynthesis,
respiration, and hormone effects could not continue to occur. Naturally, pure, uncontaminated
water which is in the proper PH range should be what is around the roots for effective transpiration.
Basically, photosynthesis is the manufacture of plant useable food from raw materials. The factors
influencing photosynthesis are: light, water, carbon dioxide, and healthy, abundant chlorophyl
cells. Photosynthesis occurs in the chlorophyl cells of the leaves and stems, combining the raw
materials of carbon dioxide and water to form hydrocarbons (carbohydrates and sugars) with light
energy, releasing oxygen from the leaves as a by-product. This plant useable food is used for cell
maintenance and growth (process of respiration), and any excess food is transported to the plant
storage area(s).

Light Intensity
The higher the light intensity is, the greater will be the rate of photosynthesis. The higher the rate
of photosynthesis is, the more plant useable food can be immediately used or stored. Food storage
may not be as necessary for some plants because the yearly cycle in nature may be continually
conducive to photosynthesis. However, in nature, the yearly cycle may not be continually
conducive, and in those times, the plant must go dormant or rely on stored reserves. From the
equator through the tropics, sub-tropics, temperate, and arctic climate zones, or from sealevel to
the highest mountain peaks, the natural conditions are generally less and less conducive to
continual photosynthesis because of daily or seasonal temperature extremes.
Intensity is how strong, or bright, the light is that actually reaches the plant. In nature, all plants
are under the same light source (the sun); but due to cloudiness patterns, shielding by rocks or
other plants, and its angle to the earth (daily and seasonally), varying intensities actually reach the
plant. Use natural habitat or experimentation as a guide. In most cases, weak intensity is signalled
by weak, spindly growth. (This is similar to the weak, spindly growth from too much red light and
not enough blue light, but the difference is that too much red light causes spindly growth because
of elongation of the cells rather than weak, small cell structure. Also, weak intensity causes the
foliage in many plants to become darker green than when the plant is grown under proper intensity.
If intensity is too strong, growth is too compact, and foliage fades toward lighter green or
yellowish. Foliage sometimes has a reddish tint at intensities just approaching too much intensity.

In almost all plants, what really matters is the combination of intensity and duration together. Lack
of intensity can be somewhat compensated for by increasing duration, and vice versa. Be careful,
though, because altering duration also changes the photoperiod. For example, a plant receives the
same amount of effective light if it is under 1000 footcandles intensity for twelve hours (1000 x
12 = 12000) as it would receive under 1200 footcandles for ten hours (1200 x 10 = 12000). What
has really changed in these two examples is the photoperiod.

Under artificial light it is easy to vary photoperiod manually, or with an electric timer. Under
natural sunlight, a southern exposure offers the longest most intense light, and an eastern or
western exposure offers the next longest and most intense light, and a northern exposure offers the
weakest and least intense light. In fact, a northern exposure offers mostly indirect sunlight
(reflected light). Also, a combination of natural sunlight and artificial light is possible.

Even near the equator, if water is not abundant year round, even though all the other factors are
conducive to growth, the plant will go dormant or be forced to use its reserves. When water and
food storage are full to capacity, further water and photosynthesis are not as necessary. Watering
at this time should be lessened to prevent unused water from stagnating around the roots,
decreasing the chance of root rot, and decreasing the chance of oxygen starvation (oxygen is
necessary for respiration). Water must be pure, uncontaminated, and in the proper PH range.
If a growing medium is used, it is a good idea to periodically run pure water through the soil so as
to flush out any build-up of fertilizer salts and restore a more balanced N-P-K ratio to the medium.
In fact, spraying or flushing the entire plant is beneficial, but some plants rot easily if water is left
in contact with them too long. If the medium is in a container (pot) you must have drainage holes
in the bottom so the water can run through.

Most tap water contains chlorine and fluorine, and chlorine is detrimental to plants (sometimes
quickly, sometimes slowly), but usually results in the death of the plant. If tap water is left standing
out for 24 hours or more, most of the chlorine and fluorine will outgas (come out of the water). I
don't know if fluorine is harmful or not,but given a choice, it would be better for it not to be in the

Water softener water is loaded with sodium ions which are also deadly to most plants. Ground,
well, or river water may also contain harmful amounts of minerals, harmful minerals, pollutants,
or chemical contamination. The best natural water if you are not in an acid rain area, is rain water.
The absolute best water is distilled water, since the distilling process yields pure water with no
minerals or anything else in the water.

Basically, respiration is the reverse or complementary process of photosynthesis. It occurs
throughout the whole plant (mostly at new growth tips), combining the plant useable food and its
trapped light energy with oxygen and mineral nutrients from the roots to maintain old cells and
build new cells. The factors influencing respiration are: temperature, mineral nutrients, and

I'm not sure just how temperature affects respiration, only that it does; and night temperature seems
to be more critical than day temperature. Some plants need even temperature day or night, and
some need cooler nights. Some need even temperature year round, and some need seasonal
Most plants grow foliage adequately in a temperature range from 45 degrees to 85 degrees
Farenheit, although they can tolerate from 32 degrees (freezing) to 100 degrees Farenheit.
Temperatures for vigorous growth are in a range from about 60 degrees to 80 degrees Farenheit.

Nutrients can be supplied by using a good growing medium containing its own nutrients like
commercially available potting soil, or an inert growing medium, or no medium at all. For no
growing medium at all or an inert one, you must use a nutrient solution more often. The PH of the
wet growing medium must be appropriate to the specific plant or the nutrients, even though they
are available, cannot be used by the plant. Most plants require a PH between 5.5 and 7.0, with 6.0
being most common.

Oxygen for respiration is obtained from the air surrounding the roots. Although some plants can
use oxygen which is dissolved in water, most plants detest continual submersion in water, and
prefer good root aeration.

Plant hormones trigger the beginning and/or end of such plant functions as root growth, foliage
growth, flower growth, and dormancy. The factors influencing hormone effects are: temperature,
light quality, photoperiod and phototropism.

If the temperature is too hot or cold, a plant will go dormant, and wait until temperature is
conducive to grow. If it is too hot or cold, but not enough to stop foliage growth, it may still be too
hot or too cold for flowering.

Light Quality
Light quality is another factor which influences root, foliage, and flower growth. Useful light to
plants is predominantly infra-red, red, and some orange for flower growth, and blue for foliage
growth; whereas yellow and green do not seem to be of much use to a plant. The basic color of
most plants is in the yellow to green area, and the reason they look yellow to green is because that
is the color being reflected from the plant to our eyes. The other colors are absorbed by the plant,
and only absorbed light is useful to a plant.

Light Photoperiod
Light photoperiod is another factor which influences flower growth in plants. Photoperiod is the
hours of light compared to the hours of darkness. In order to flower, some plants need short days
and long nights, some need long days and short nights; but most do not seem to care.
More red than blue light is contained in eastern and western exposures. More equal amounts of
red and blue are contained in a southern exposure. The greater the angle of the sun away from
perpendicular to the earth, (greatest at sunrise and sunset), the greater the amount of red light and
the lesser amount of blue light, and the less intensity the light has. This is why sunrise and sunset
are reddish in color.

Phototropism is the ability of a plant to know the direction from which the light is coming, and to
bend toward it. Not much needs to be said about this because hopefully you will orient your plants
so that they do not have to hunt for their light source. In general, all plant processes happen day or
night with possible variance in night/day rate, except for photosynthesis which cannot occur at
night because of lack of sufficient light. Some flowers open only at night, and this is probably
attributable to photoperiod.
Plant dormancy, or reduced plant activity, is usually triggered by the temperature being too
extreme. It can also be triggered by lack of water or by both lack of water and the temperature
being too extreme.


If you examine the plant parts, you learn where the damage is, and what process(s) is(are) deficient,
thus enabling you to take appropriate corrective action.
EXAMPLE 1 Lithops, dinteri v. brevis

This plant is a South African desert succulent in which the leaves and stem are combined. It is also
capable of long term food and water storage, and thus capable of undergoing long periods of
Overwatering is the most common reason that plants die (especially true of desert plants). The
second most common reason is overfertilization. Lithops can get by with very little watering, and
are quickly susceptible to the bad effects of overwatering. Lithops can tolerate overfertilization,
because they, as well as many desert plants, frequently grow in areas of high mineral concentration.
Even salt in the soil does not bother many desert plants.

The problem I had with this plant occurred when it developed three flower buds and only one
opened into flower while the other two remained buds.

Flowering must be preceeded by good general plant growth; and the processes must be efficient;
and the plant must have adequate food and water reserves, or be in the conditions of adequate
water and nutrients currently. The plant was in good shape, so physical damage or plant processes
were not the problem; and adequate food and water reserves were stored. Since temperature, light
intensity, light photoperiod, and light quality are the major factors affecting flowering, I began to
look in this direction. I also remembered that the plant had flowered in previous winters; and since
it now flowered in summer, temperature was not the problem either. This left light quality,
intensity, and photoperiod. In the winter it is under fluorescent light, and in summer it was on the
porch under sunlight, so this ruled out light intensity and quality. I remembered that when one of
the three flowers opened it had been continually cloudy for about six weeks preceeding its opening.
Effective light useful to a plant is the combination of intensity and duration. It was after
midsummer and the daylight had already begun shortening, and the cloudiness had decreased
duration, and I realized that the plant was getting the same effect as the short days and longer
nights of winter. Shortly after the one flower opened, the weather became predominantly sunny
(increasing intensity and therefore effective light) while the days were only shortening a little (it
was early fall) and the net effect to the plant was longer days and shorter nights, causing the
photoperiod to change to one not appropriate to flowering.
Sure enough, the following winter, under fluorescent lights, the remaining two buds opened into
flower when the photoperiod was again appropriate. My light setup is controlled by an electric
timer according to natural seasonal variations. Longest summer day is 15 hours, and shortest winter
day is 9 hours, with fall and spring at 12 hours. Because of the marvelous capability for food and
water storage possessed by this succulent, the buds were preserved without damage from late
summer to late winter. In plants without this capability, the buds probably would have withered
and died before the time passed which was necessary to reach the appropriate photoperiod. In this
case, you could put the plant under fluorescent lights immediately and control the photoperiod to
be appropriate immediately. I knew that this plant would preserve its buds so I chose to wait for
the natural time of the year for the photoperiod to be appropriate.

EXAMPLE 2 Tillandsia, ionantha

This plant is a bromeliad with many pointed succulent leaves emanating from the center in an
asymetrical rosette pattern. It doesn't have much of a root system, and its primary function is
anchorage, while most water and nutrient absorbtion happens through the leaves.
I had been successfully growing it for around four weeks, when suddenly the leaf tips started
turning brown along with other brown areas on other parts of the leaves.

These symptoms could be from sunlight magnified by water droplets drying on the leaves; but in
this case, I had been growing it under fluorescent lights the whole time and had left water droplets
on it many times before with no ill effect. Besides, fluorescent lights are unlikely to be able to burn
areas even if magnified by droplets.

The preceeding symptoms usually are the result of pests, diseases, wrong or deficient nutrients, or
overfertilization (too strong or too often), or that the plant transpired more water from its leaves
than it took in from watering.

Pests were not visible anywhere on the plant even with a magnifying glass, so I dismissed this as
a cause; besides none of the other plants in the immediate area had a pest problem.

Excess transpiration could have caused browning of the leaf tips, but would probably not show the
other damage that was remote from the tips. To be on the safe side, I began enclosing the plant in
a clear plastic baggie to raise the humidity around it to slow excess transpiration. My watering
practices had been good so I knew that water intake at the roots was sufficient. Besides, with this
particular plant most water intake is through the leaves anyway. Wrong or deficient nutrients were
not a problem either, because I was using a good nutrient solution of 1/4 strength Miracle-Gro. It
could, however, be overfertilization, or some contaminant in the water or nutrient solution, or
disease, since the damage was apparently in the areas of the leaves where the water droplets had
last dried. To correct these possibilities, I began using pure distilled water, and further damage
stopped. Furthermore, I weakened the nutrient solution to around 1/12 of its orginal strength.
Therefore, I conclude that there were two separate problems: leaf tip browning, and brown areas
on other parts of some leaves. Raising the humidity, and slowing transpiration cured the leaf tips;
and weakened fertilizer cured overfertilization; and switching to pure, distilled water first, and
discontinuing using the previous water and nutrient solution removed the possibility of
contaminants. Had neither of these remedies helped, I would have treated the plant for disease. All
plants need nutrients, but some need extremely little.

EXAMPLE 3 Dionea, muscipula (Venus Flytrap)

This is a carnivorous plant which lives in boggy areas with good drainage, but moist soil (mostly
peat and other mosses), with high humidity.
The problem with this plant is that it lost vigor after about four months. All the books I had read
about this plant, and carnivorous plants in general, stated that any fertilization would kill them. I
decided to try a very weak nutrient solution on it anyway. Not only did it not die, its vigor was
restored. The books were wrong; fertilizing this plant would not kill it, only overfertilizing. I now
have three of these plants, and although I fertilize infrequently and weakly, they all do better than
I have seen before without fertilizer. If you are unsure about fertilizing, or fertilizer strength, use
a weak solution at first and build up to a stronger rather than the reverse process (starting strong
and proceeding to weak), because fertilizer burn damage is irreversible, and permanent, and if the
part damaged is too important a part of the plant, the whole plant may die.

EXAMPLE 4 Phalaenopsis, mannii

This plant is an epiphytic orchid. Its roots are used for water and nutrient absorbtion, and anchorage
to tree trunks and limbs. Its natural environment is warm, humid, and airy. It was potted in bark
The problem I experienced with this plant was first the yellowing of the leaves, followed by
shrivelling of the leaves and roots.
Yellowing of the leaves can be caused by overintense light or a malfunctioning root system,
possibly lack of nutrients. I ruled out overintense light because it is very difficult, if not impossible,
to have overintense light under fluorescent lights. Besides, my other orchid, Phalaenopsis, cornu-
cervi was doing great under the same conditions and treatment. I also ruled out lack of nutrients
being the problem for the same reason. Therefore, a malfunctioning root system seemed most
likely to be the problem. I examined the roots, and discovered no pests or rot. The roots were just
merely shrivelled. Obviously, there was either a lack of water available to the roots, or the roots
could not absorb correctly (possible PH problem). PH was not a problem because my nutrient
solution is the correct PH. I had read that root aeration was important for orchids and this plant in
particular, so I was reluctant to repot with a more water retentive growing medium for fear of more
new problems with the roots due to excess water and rot. I had noticed that even though the plant
was generally dehydrated, there was some slow new root and foliage growth, although the new
leaf was deformed. I also noticed that almost all the new roots of the past four months did not grow
down into the pot, but up and out of the pot, until at this point about 1/3 of the roots were out of
the pot. The humidity around this plant averaged 40% - 60%, which should have been adequate,
but obviously was not adequate enough for moisture absorbtion from the air into the roots, since
these air roots were also very shrivelled. I decided not to repot the plant at all, but simply submerge
the whole plant in water or nutrient solution. For the first few days I submerged the plant daily for
an hour, and after about five days the roots filled back out; the older leaves were too far gone to
unshrivel, but the newer ones filled back out and green color replaced the yellowing over 90% of
the leaf surface. Now I submerge it periodically in rain water for about 4 hours. I use about 1/5
strength Miracle-Gro in rain water every fourth or fifth watering. After about three weeks of this
treatment, more new roots began to grow, the partially grown, deformed leaf began growing at a
faster, normal rate, and a brand new leaf started to grow. This seems to me to be the perfect solution
because the plant now gets plenty of water and nutrients; and yet the roots dry off quickly after
watering, posing almost no risk of root rot. A side benefit is that I can now view the entire root
system easily. Since the roots are gnarly, and springy, I set the plant on a bark slab; and, although
not attached, it does maintain its upright position, and is much more aesthetically appealling since
it now looks a lot like it does in nature. There are many more examples I could give, but I hope
that you now understand how to use the information in this manual. GOOD LUCK!! HAPPY

AIZOOIDEAE Acrosanthes Ecklon & Zeyher
Aizoanthemum Dinter
Aizoon Linn
Galenia Linn
Gunniopsis Pax
Plinthus Fenzl


Aridaria N.E.Br.
Mesembryanthemum Linn
Phyllobolus N.E.Br.
Prenia N.E.Br.
Sceletium N.E.Br.
Synaptophyllum N.E.Br.

Brownanthus Schwantes
Pseudobrownanthus Ihlenfeldt & Bittrich
Psilocaulon N.E.Br.

Aspazoma N.E.Br.
Dactylopsis N.E.Br.

RUSCHIOIDEAE * Apatesia Group Apatesia N.E.Br.

Carpanthea N.E.Br.
Conicosia N.E.Br.
Hymenogyne Haworth

Caryotophora Leistner
Saphesia N.E.Br.
Skiatophytum L.Bolus

Cleretum Group Aethephyllum N.E.Br.

Cleretum N.E.Br.
Dorotheanthus Schwantes

Mitrophyllum Dicrocaulon N.E.Br.

Group Diplosoma Schwantes
Jacobsenia L.Bolus & Schwantes
Meyerophytum Schwantes
Mitrophyllum Schwantes
Monilaria Schwantes (Schwantes)
Oophytum N.E.Br.

Drosanthemopsis Rauschert

Glottiphyllum N.E.Br.
Disphyma N.E.Br.

Delosperma Corpuscularia Schwantes

Group Delosperma ss. N.E.Br.
Drosanthemum Schwantes
Malephora N.E.Br.
Mestoklema N.E.Br. ex Glen
Trichodiadema Schwantes

Lampranthus pp.
Oscularia Schwantes

Gibbaeum N.E.Br. (Haworth)

Imitaria N.E.Br.
Muiria N.E.Br.

Stomatium Group Frithia N.E.Br.

Chasmatophyllum Dinter & Schwantes

Hammeria Burgoyne
Rabiea N.E.Br.
Rhinephyllum N.E.Br.
Stomatium Schwantes

Mossia N.E.Br.
Neohenricia L.Bolus

Faucaria Schwantes
Orthopterum L.Bolus

Titanopsis Group Aloinopsis Schwantes

Deilanthe N.E.Br.
Ihlenfeldtia Hartmann
Nananthus N.E.Br.
Titanopsis Schwantes
Vanheerdea L.Bolus ex Hartmann

Didymaotus N.E.Br.
Tanquana Hartmann & Liede

Dinteranthus Schwantes
Lapidaria N.E.Br. (Dinter & Schwantes)
Lithops N.E.Br.
Schwantesia Dinter

Dracophilus Dracophilus Dinter & Schwantes (Schwantes)

Group Hartmanthus S.A.Hammer
Jensenobotrya Herre
Juttadinteria Schwantes
Namibia Schwantes (Schwantes)
Nelia Schwantes
Psammophora Dinter & Schwantes
Ruschianthus L.Bolus

Conophytum N.E.Br.

Bergeranthus Bergeranthus Schwantes

Group Machairophyllum Schwantes

Carruanthus Schwantes (Schwantes)

Hereroa Dinter & Schwantes (Schwantes)
Rhombophyllum Schwantes (Schwantes)

Bijlia N.E.Br.
Cerochlamys N.E.Br.

Lampranthus Antegibbaeum Schwantes ex C.Weber

Group Braunsia Schwantes
Carpobrotus N.E.Br.
Circandra N.E.Br.
Enarganthe N.E.Br.
Erepsia N.E.Br.
Esterhuysenia L.Bolus
Lampranthus ss. N.E.Br.
Namaquanthus L.Bolus
Scopelogena L.Bolus
Smicrostigma N.E.Br.
Vlokia S.A.Hammer
Wooleya L.Bolus
Zeuktophyllum N.E.Br.

Ruschia Group Acrodon N.E.Br.

Arenifera Herre
Astridia Dinter
Ebracteola Dinter & Schwantes
Khadia N.E.Br.
Marlothistella Schwantes
Polymita N.E.Br.
Ruschia ss. Schwantes
Stayneria L.Bolus

Leipoldtia Group Antimima N.E.Br.

Argyroderma N.E.Br.
Cephalophyllum N.E.Br.
Cheiridopsis N.E.Br.
Cylindrophyllum Schwantes
Fenestraria N.E.Br.
Hallianthus Hartmann
Jordaaniella Hartmann
Leipoldtia sl.
Octopoma ss. N.E.Br.
Odontophorus N.E.Br.
Ottosonderia L.Bolus
Pleiospilos N.E.Br.
Schlechteranthus Schwantes
Vanzijlia L.Bolus

Eberlanzia Group Amphibolia L.Bolus ex Herre

Eberlanzia Schwantes
Ruschianthemum Friedrich
Stoeberia Dinter & Schwantes

Cypselea Turpin
Sesuvium Linn
Trianthema Linn
Zaleya N.L.Burman

Tetragonia Linn
Tribulocarpus S.Moore

* This is the old family MESEMBRYANTHEMACEAE

(classification by Derek Tribble 1998 and Heidi Hartmann in MSG Bulletin 1998)

Old Classification
The C1assification of the Mesembryanthemaceae by Prof Dr G. Schwantes
Revised and completed by Prof. Dr H. Straka and Prof. Dr H. D. Ihlenfeldt in
accordance with Prof. Dr G. Schwantes

I. MESEMBRYANTHEMOIDEAE Ihl., Schw. et Str. (syn. Aptenioideae Schwant).

Gynaecium isomeric, does more or less project beyond the axillary calyx (flower perigyn),
nectaries koilomorphic. Fruit: loculicidal, hygrochastical capsule, numerous seeds in each cell.

Tribe 1. Apteniinae Schwant.

Petals soft, not rigid.

Subtribe 1. Apteniae Schwant.

Perennial herbs. Capsule 4-celled.

Aptenia N.E. BR.

Platythyra N.E. BR.

Subtribe 2. Mesembryanthemeinae Ihl. Schw. et Str.

Annual or biennial herbs with flat to cylindrical leaves.
Capsule 5-celled.
Hydrodea N.E. BR.
Mesembryanthemum L. emnd L. Bol.
Euiystigma L. Bol.
Halenbergia Dint.
Opophytum N.E. BR.
Callistigma Dint. et Schwant.
Synaptophyllum N.E. BR.

Subtribe 3. Preniinae Schwant.

Perennial. Main stem with shortened internodes, flowering shoots elongated. Capsule 4-S-celled.
Prenia N.E. BR.
Sceletium N.E. BR.

Subtribe 4. Aridariinae Schwant.

Erect or creeping shrubs, often with tuberous or turnip-shaped roots. Capsule 4-5-celled.
Aridaria N.E. BR.

Subtribe 5. Psilocaulinae Herre.

Shrubs with leaves deciduous or persisting as spines.
Capsule 5-celled.
Amoebophyllum N.E. BR.
Psilocaulon N.E. BR.

Tribe 2. Dactylopsideae
Flower in Dactylopsis with rigid petals. Dwarf shrubs or stemless. Leaves partly alternate,
with very long leaf sheaths, digitate, very succulent. Capsule 5-celled.

II. Subfamily: HYMENOGYNOIDEAE Schwant.

Annual herbs with flat leaves with idioblasts in the epidermis. Gynaecium pleiomeric, flower
Carpels far separated into two halves by false septums, the halved segments carry only a single
Nectaries: an intermediate stage between koilomorphic and lophomorphic type. Fruit:
many-celled fractionising fruit, the seeds remain embedded in a pocket of the partial fruitlets
Hymenogyne Haw.

III. Subfamily: CARYOTOPHOROIDEAE Ihlf., Schwant. et STR.

Perennial herbs with a perennial rootstock. Gynaecium oligomeric (3-4 carpels, this occurs but
within the Mesembryanthemaceae), flower epigyn. Carpels divided into two halves by false
septums with
the exception of a minute opening near the mouth of the style channel; each half carries one (rarely
seeds. No further seeds in the carpels. The nectaries represent an intermediate stage between the
koilomorph and lophomorph type. Fruit: loculicid fractionising fruit; the narrow communication
between the two halves of a cell becomes recognisable as small lateral openings in the partial
(double clausae) when the fruit is splitting, the segments of fruit are woody and remain connected
first by the axillary calyx. The seeds remain enclosed in the segments.

Caryotophora Leistn.


IV. Subfamily: RUSCHIOIDEAE Schwant.

Placentation basal to parietal with all transitional stages.
Gynaecium isomeric or pleiomeric, flower epigyn. Nectaries

Tribe I. Ruschieae Schwant.

Gynaecium isomeric or pleiomeric, numerous seeds in the cells. Fruit: loculicidal hygrochastical

Subtribe I. Ruschiinae Schwant.

Shrubs or stemless. Capsule 5- or many-celled, with placental tubercles. Valve wings wanting or
rudimentary. Cell lids often with a closing mechanism.
Ruschia Schwant.
Eberlanzia Schwant.
Acrodon N.E. BR.
Astridia Dint. et Schwant.
Bergeranthus Schwant.
Ottosonderia L. Bol.
Carruanthus Schwant.
Titchieria Schwant.
Hereroa DINT. et Schwant.
Rhombophyllum Schwant.
Bijlia N.E. BR.
Machairophyllum Schwant.

Subtribe 2. Leipoldtilnae Schwant

Shrubs or stemless. Capsule many-celled, with cell lids and
(except Vanheerdea) placental tubercles. Cell lids often with a
closing mechanism.
Leipoldtia L. Bol.
Cephalophyllum N.E. Br.
Fenestraria N.E. BR.
Cheiridopsis N.E. Br.
Vanheerdea L. Bol.
Cylindrophyllum Schwant
Calamophyllum Schwant.
Schlechteranthus Schwant.
Odontophorus N.E. BR.
Polymita N.E. BR.
Octopoma N.E. BR.
Vanzijlia L. Bol.

Subtribe 3. Lampranthinae Schwant.

Shrubs or stemless. Capsule 5-celled with cell lids and sometimes placental tubercles.
Lampranthus N.E. BR.
Oscularia Schwant.
Ebracteola Schwant.
Braunsia Schwant. (syn. Echinus L. Bol.)
Cerochiamys N.E. BR.
Dicrocaulon N.E. BR.
Disphyma N.E. BR.

Subtribe 4. Jacobsenjinae Schwant

Shrub with cylindrical leaves, juvenile stage of the papillose leaves corpuscular. Capsule with
cell lids and valve wings, 5-celled (Lampranihus-type).
Jacobsenia L. Bol. et Schwant.

Subtribe 5. Delospermatinae Schwant.

Stemless or shrubby with a perennial rootstock. Capsule without cell lids or with rudimentary
cell lids, 5-6-celled.
Delosperma N.E. BR.
Drosanthemum Schwant.
Trichodiadema Schwant
Mestoklema N.E. BR.
Ectotropis N.E. BR. (Delosperma)

Subtribe 6. Psammophorinae Schwant.

Stemless or shrubby, leaves with sand adhering. Capsule without cell lids, with valve wings.
(Delosperma-type) 5-8-celled.
Psammophora Schwant
Arenifera Herre.

Subtribe 7. Erepsiinae Schwant.

Shrubs or stemless and of tufted habit. The axillary calyx projects beyond the ovary in shape
of a tube. The stamens and staminodes in part or wholly bent into the corolla tube. Capsule 5-
with cell lids, with or without placental tubercles.
Erepsia N.E. BR.
Semnanthe N.E. BR.
Smicrostigma N.E. BR.
Kensitia Fedde.
Argyroderma N.E. BR.
Nelia. Schwant.

Subtribe 8. Nananthinae Schwant.

Plants forming rosettes or clumps. Leaves generally tuberculate. Capsule many-celled, with cell
lids, without or with small placental tubercles.
Nananthus N.E. BR.
Aloinopsis Schwant
Titanopsis Schwant
Khadia N.E. BR.
Rabiea N.E. BR.

Subtribe 9. Pleiospilinae Schwant

Stemless. Leaves marked with numerous dark dots. Capsule many-celled, with cell lids and
placental tubercles.
Pleiospilos N.E. BR.

Subtribe 10. Stomatiinae Schwant.

Creeping shrubs or stemless. Leaves tuberculate-papillose.
Capsule 5-celled, with cell lids, without placental tubercles.
Stomatium Schwant.
Chasmatophyllum Dint. et Schwant.
Rhine phyllum N.E. BR.
Neorhine Schwant
Neohenucia L. Bol.

Subtribe 11. Jensenobotryinae Schwant.

Plant depressed with long woody stems as thick as an arm, creeping over rocks. Leaves nearly
globose. Capsule 5-celled.
Jensenobotrya Herre.

Subtribe 12. Dracophilinae Schwant.

Compact, prostrate shrubs with thick leaves. Capsules many-celled, with developed or small
rudimentary cell lids or without these.
Dracophilus Dint et Schwant.
Juttadinteria Schwant.
Namibia Dint et Schwant.

Subtribe 13. Lithopinae Schwant.

Stemless. Leaves of the secings forming globose or cone-shaped bodies, later more separated
from each other; in Lithops only does the juvenile form persist. Flowers without bracts
(not sepals!). Capsule 5-celled, with valve wings, only in Lapidaria with cell lids.

Lithops N.E. BR.

Schwantesia Dint.
Lapidaria Schwant.
Dinteranthus Schwant.

Subtribe 14. Frithiinae Schwant.

Stemless; leaves cylindrical, the end windowed. Petals at the base united into a tube.
Capsule 5-celled, without cell lids and valve wings.
Frithia N.E. BR.

Subtribe 15. Gibbaeinae Schwant.

Stemless or nearly stemless. Capsule 6-many-celled, usually with cell lids, without
placental tubercles.
Gibbaeum Haw.
Antegibbaeum Schwant.
Imitaria N.E. BR.
Didymaotus N.E. BR.
Mtiiria N.E. BR.
Muirio-Gibbaeum Jacobs.

Subtribe 16. Conophytinae Schwant

Stemless or nearly stemless. Leaves short and thick, or united to cordate or conical
bodies. Petals united into a tube. Capsule with valve wings, without cell lids (Delosperma-type).
Conophytum N.E. BR.
Berrisfordia L. Bol.
Herreanthus Schwant.
Oophytum N.E. BR.
Ophthalmophyllum Dint. et Schwant.

Subtribe 17. Faucariinae Schwant

Stemless, usually leaves with dentate margins. Capsule 5-celled. The cell walls gape in their
upper portion and bend over the cells, whereby the cells are closed up to narrow openings the
same as by true cell lids (Faucaria-type).
Faucaria Schwant.
Orthopterum L. Bol.

Subtribe 18. Malephorinae Schwant.

Shrubs, stemless or nearly stemless. Capsule many-celled, with cell lids and valve wings,
in Malephora with adaxial seed pockets.
Malephora N.E. BR.
Glottiphyllum Haw.
Subtribe 19. Dorotheanthinae Schwant.
Annual herbs with flat or more or less cylindrical leaves.
Capsule 5-celled, with or without cell lids.
Dorotheanthus Schwant.
Aethephyllum N.E. BR.
Pherolobus N.E. BR.
Micropterum Schwant.

Subtribe 20. Mitrophyllinae Schwant.

Shrubs or stemless. Pronounced heterophylly. Capsule 5-celled with cell lids (except
with or without poorly developed placental tubercles.
Mitrophyllum Schwant.
Monilaria Schwant.
Conophyllum Schwant.
Mimetophytum L. Bol.
Meyerophytum Schwant.
Maughaniella L. Bol.
Diplosoma Schwant.

Subtribe 21. Carpantheinae Schwant

Annual herbs with flat leaves. Capsule many-celled. Lamellae of the cell walls diverging,
pressed over the cell by domed connecting arch leaving narrow fissure only through which
the seeds must pass.
Carpanthea N.E. BR.

Subtribe 22. Stoeberiinae Friedr.

Shrubs, intricately branched. Leaves smooth, somewhat clavate, dotted, horizontally
spreading. Flowers terminal, dichotomously divided. Capsule turbinate-globose, 5-(6)-10-locular,
with cell lids and with tubercle; capsules break easily into parts so that with Ruschianthemum
it becomes a schizocarp.
Stoeberia Dint. et Schwant.
Ruschianthemum Friedr

Tribe 2. Apatesieae Schwant.

Annuals, bieimials or perennials. Without idioblasts in the
epidermis. Gynaecium pleiomeric, in each cell there are formed two seed pockets at the upper
(outer) end of the placenta by an imperfect false septum. In each seed pocket one seed is
developed (abaxile seed pocket). Fruit: transitional form from hygrochastic schizocarp
(with tendencies to a fractionizing) fruit (Apatesia) to dry opening loculicidal (with
additional tendencies to septicidal splitting) fractionizing fruit (Herrea). Partial
fruidets: double clausae. Seed pockets always i-seeded and a few seeds are still produced
in the ovary-chambers.
Apatesia N.E. BR.
Conicosia N.E. BR.
Herrea Schwant.

Tribe 3. Skiatophyteae (Straka) Ihlenf.

Biennials or perennials with flat leaves. Gynaecium isomeric, (4)5-7-carpels. An imperfect
false septum and a horizontal placental wall form, at the upper end of the placenta in each
seed cell, two seed pockets (abaxile seed pockets), in which one seed develops always.
Fruit: hygroscopical (opens one time and remains open) loculicidal schizocarpic capsule.
Beside the two seeds in the pockets a few seeds are still produced in the cells.
Skiatophytum L. Bol.

Tribe 4. Saphesieae (Schwant.) Ihlenf.

Shrubs. Gynaecium isomeric, only first indications of seed pockets in the cells.
Fruit: dry opening, 5-celled, loculicidal capsule; numerous seeds in each cell.
Saphesia N.E. BR.

Tribe 5. Carpobroteae Schwant.

Creeping shrubs. Gynaecium pleiomeric. Fruit: many-celled indehiscent fruit, numerous seeds
in each cell. On ripening the axial calyx and especially the surrounding bases of the sepals
become fleshy. The edible fruit may be called a berry.
Carpobrotus N.E. BR.


Amphibolia L. Bol. Ruschianthus L. Bol.
Anisocalyx L. Bol. Scopelogena L. Bol.
Enarganthe N.E. BR. Stayneria L. Bol.
Mossia N.E. BR. Wooleya L. Bol.
Namaquanthus L. Bol. Zeuktophyllum N.E. BR.
Subtribe I. Ruschiinae

Explanation of some Botanical Terms by Prof. Dr H.-D. Ihlenfeldt

The aggregation of carpels (pistil) is termed gynaecium. This is isomeric, if its members are equal
in number with those of the other floral whorls, viz. the calyx and the whorl of primordias of
stamens; it is oligomeric if its members are less in number and it is pleiomeric, if they are
more numerous. In Mesembryanthemums with a pleiomeric gynaecium the number of carpels is
appreciably (about 2- to 3-times) over the number of the members of each floral whorl.
Relating to the situation of the placentas in the centre, at the base or on the side-walls
of the ovaries, we distinguish a placentation which is central (axile), or basal, or parietal.
Staminal-primordias are the early stage of development of the androecium (i.e. the complex
of the male organs) in a flower-bud. With the Mesembryanthemums their number is always equal
to the
number of the sepals (segments of calyx); they are isomeric. During the development of the flower
(ontogenesis) these primordias will be divided into numerous petals and stamens, a division which
is typical of Mesembryanthemums. Therefore the petals of the Mesembryanthemums ought to be
stamirnodes (transformed stamens), to be more exact.
Capsules are fruits possessing the following characters:
(i) they are dry; (ii) they are composed of more than one carpel; (iii) they are dehiscent
(in contrast to indehiscent fruits), with the Mesembryanthemums by valves; (iv) they do not
separate into single partial fruitlets (as with schizocarpic and with fractionizing fruits).
With the schizocarps each partial fruitlet corresponds to a single complete carpel, whereas
with fractionizing fruits each partial fruitlet consists of parts other than a complete carpel
(e.g. half of a carpel). Dehiscence of capsules may happen loculicidally (splitting along the
midrib of the carpel), or septicidally (dividing the true septa), or more rarely in both ways
at once.
Clausae and double clausae are fruitlets of fractionizing fruits. A "clausa" is a
partial fruitiet which originates from a partial compartment of an ovary-chamber (loculus),
which is produced by a false septum. A "double clausa" consists of two such clausae of
adjoining carpels, united by a true septum.
By an unequal shrinkage of different tissues of the fruit-wall ripe capsules can
burst open by desiccation (dry-openi~). In other cases they dehisce on wetting and remain
open permanently as in the preceding case (hygroscopical opening) or they close again when
becoming dry and reopen when becoming wet (hygrochasy).
Nectaries which are sunk like a pit are called koilomorphic, and when raised like
a crest lophomorphic.
A seed pocket is a separate part of an ovary-chamber, in which one or more seeds
are located, and in which the seeds will be retained totally, while the other seeds of the
main chamber will be dispersed - supposing that seeds are developed in the main chamber at
all. With the Ruschioideae seed pockets can be formed either by the upper (outside) end of
the placenta (an axile seed-pocket), or by its lower (inner) end (adaxile seed pockets).
Idioblasts: Special cells which differ from their neighbouring cells by their
shape, their contents or the thickening of their walls.