Titanopsis calcarea (Marl.) Schwant.
Growth Habits: The plant is mat forming, making succulent rosettes approximately 3in. (up to 8 cms.) in diameter. The ends of the fleshy leaves are flattened and have very attractive wart-like protuberances on them. There are several species in the genus and all are very much alike, with slight colour variations and size differences. Calcarea is probably the most common species. The genus is closely related to Aloinopsis.
Scientific name: Titanopsis calcarea.
Common names: Jewel Plant, Carpet Leaf, Concrete Leaf.
Synonym: Titanopsis calcareum
Etymology: From the Greek titanos, meaning chalk and opsis meaning appearance.
Origin: South Africa (Bushmanland, Upper Karoo)
Light: Light shade in the heat of summer seems to suit this plant best.
Compost: These plants do quite well in relatively poor compost and need very little feeding . However, as with most cacti and succulents the compost must drain quickly, so that the roots are never in waterlogged compost for long.
Water: These plants grow in late autumn and early spring and need reasonable amounts of water then. Keep mainly dry the rest of the year.
Flower: The flowers are yellow to orange and appear in late autumn and winter. They are reminiscent of Lithops flowers.
Fruit: The ‘seed pod’ is a small brown capsule.
Min. temp: The plants are hardy to 25°f. (-4°c.) Calcarea is the most cold hardy of this genus.
Cultivation: Grow in a well drained compost with less than average water and only the occasional weak feed.
Habitat: The plants grow in calcrete shale in the open plains and can be very hard to find as they mimic their surroundings.
Comments: When I was first entering this wonderful hobby, the ‘old timers’ of which I am now one, always used to say grow this genus hard, that is, very little water and virtually no feeding and this will keep it true to type. This reflects a little in the above photograph. The plant has been grown in a nutrient rich peat based compost and the leaves are starting to grow a little larger than they normally would do. The plant however looks nice and healthy, but could be a little more compact in its growth.
A more in-depth look at individual succulent species, a new one is added each week.
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