Lithops Living Stone

Living Stone truly resembles a pebble in appearance and coloration and is practically invisible in the stony wastes of its native South African habitat. Lithops is Greek for stone. It is also commonly called Pebble Plant. It is a splendid example of an organism’s perfect adaptation to its environment. The body of such plants is composed of two opposite, fleshy leaves, &<-. joined at the base and usually flattened at the top, as if truncated. In young plants, there is a narrow groove between the leaves which gradually opens and from which the flowers emerge. A new pair of fleshy leaves is formed each year. The previous year’s leaves dry up and the remnants of these and of the flowers remain at the base of the plant. These should be removed. The colour of the flowers and the structure and coloration of the flat, terminal leaf surface are very important aids in identify ing the species of Lithops. At least 100 species have been described, of which about 40 are valid. L. pseudotruncatella typically has pale grey, branched markings on the flat surfaces of the leaves; in var. volkii, however, these markings are absent.

It requires a free-draining compost, ideally a mixture of well-rotted leaf mould, sand and pumice or stone rubble. A dry atmosphere and plenty of light are essential for healthy growth.

Do not water during the rest period from February to April, while the new plant takes its food from the dying parts of the old plant. Water by misting the soil from May onwards. Incorrect watering causes the greatest damage to the plants in cultivation. Do not allow water to remain on the leaves because they rot readily. The flowering period is generally in late summer and autumn. The golden yellow flowers of var. volkii bloom in July, opening in the afternoon. Lithops is easily propagated from seed. This may be obtained from your own plants, but it is necessary to grow several specimens of the same species and transfer the pollen with a brush. The seeds germinate readily in a mixture of peat and sand at a temperature of 20° C (68° F). Flowers are not produced until after two to three years.

Lithops’ karasm ontana var. summitatum

This Lithops is native to the mountain regions of Namibia. It spreads readily, forming extensive carpets. The body reaches a height of 4 cm (1.5 in) and is a pale grey colour. The flat tops of the leaves are smooth or slightly wavy, 15-25 mm (0.5-l in) across, and coloured reddish-brown with reticulated markings. The glossy white flowers measure up to 3.5 cm Seedlings flower for the first time after three years at the end of the growing period. The flowers are large – the same size as the whole body. They open after midday.

Lithops turbiniformis

This species was discovered in Cape Province in 1811. The plants grow singly or in pairs and do not form a carpet. It is only 2.5 cm (1 inch) high. The flat leaf tops are almost circular, 2.5 cm (1 inch) in diameter, coloured greyish-brown, reddish-brown or dark brown. They may be faintly furrowed, reticulated or even tubercled. The sides of the body are usually grey, occasionally yellowish-brown.

Tiger’s Chaps is one of about 33 species in the genus, all native to South Africa. Many hybrid varieties are cultivated because spontaneous cross-breeding often occurs when several are grown together. It is a succulent plant, usually without a stem. The leaf rosette is composed of several pairs of fleshy, decussate leaves joined together at the base. They are triangular and spiny-toothed on the margins (sometimes on the surface as well). There is a prominent keel on the underside of the leaves. The spines, which resemble the teeth of a tiger, gave the plant its specific and common names. The flowers are up to 5 cm (2 inch) across and a brilliant yellow. They are numerous and produced from August to November.

This species does well indoors, if provided with adequate sunlight. Water liberally in summer. It may be moved outdoors in summer, but must be sheltered from rain. In winter it requires a light and dry location at a temperature of 6°C (43° F). Fau-carias may be propagated by division or from seed.

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