Conophytum obcordellum ssp. Obcordellum v. ceresin (L. Bolus)
Growth Habits: Conophytums, unlike Lithops, which in many other ways they resemble can grow into a clump of heads quite quickly, given the correct conditions. As with Lithops a new head is produced each year. The heads of different species can be several different shapes and also different colours from lime green through to a rich burgundy. They can depending upon the species be plain, or spotted or even striped. The heads depending on the species can be anything from the size of a large grape down to one or two species that are about the size of a pin head. I have some of the small ones and contemplated using them, but getting a good photograph is all but impossible. Where they differ from Lithops is that they can form a clump reasonably quickly and also as they get older tend to have a small stem at the base of the head, something that Lithops never have.
Scientific name: Conophytum obcordellum ssp. obcordellum v. ceresianum
Common names: As with Lithops there are several: Living Stones, Living Pebbles etc.
Synonym: Mesembryanthemum obcordellum, Conophytum picturatum
Etymology: The name of this genus is derived from the Greek words konus, meaning cone, and phyton, meaning plant.
Origin: They can be found in several areas of South Africa, but are most plentiful in the Namaqualand area
Light: Will take bright light to light shade.
Compost: My own typical mix is one part potting soil to one part fine gravel or chicken grit.
Water: Steve Hammer, in his book Dumpling and his Wife advocates light splashes frequently, rather than a good douse and who am I to argue with the great man.
Flower: Most will usually flower in September, October and into November. Deep Fuchsia pink, a cerise colour, hence the name. This particular species flowers at night
Fruit: Brown capsule that will open when wet. You can see them in the photograph between the heads of the plant. One drop of water on them and they will open very much like an envelope, release some seeds (not generally all of them) and as the pod dries, it closes back up until the next ‘rainfall.’
Min. temp: 43f, 7c. Will stand 15f -10c briefly
Cultivation: No single set of rules can be applied to all species. Strong light that will give one species a ‘healthy tan’ will ultimately dry roast other species. Funnily enough Conophytums grow particularly well in English weather conditions. The humidity and diffused lighting give a luxuriant and stress free growth cycle. In habitat Conophytums as a genus tend to grow where they can obtain some shade. Once they have flowered I usually put mine under the greenhouse staging until at least May of the following year. When signs of growth are showing I give a light spray once a week until I know that the plant is in full growth and then water as normal.
Habitat: This particular species is associated with the sandstone formations of Karooport and Inverdoorn
Comments: Conophytums are not difficult to grow as long as you understand their growing cycle and have a steady hand with the watering can. Anyone interested in the genus should really invest in a book on these plants. I have both of Steven Hammer’s. Not cheap, but well worth having.
A more in-depth look at individual succulent species, a new one is added each week.
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