Plant Highlights By Date
With approximately 1,800 species, the Ice Plant Family (Aizoaceae) is a large and diverse assemblage of plants. One of the many mesembs found in South Africa is Fenestraria rhopalophylla, known by the delightful common name of “baby toes”.
South Africa has quite a few species of Aloe native to the winter-rainfall region, which is located in the western part of the country. One of these is Aloe framesii, which occurs in a coastal strip along Saldanha Bay (north of Cape Town).
The family Proteaceae includes many widely-grown ornamental plants, mostly native to South Africa and Australia. Each of these two places has many species, but the genera found in South Africa are not the same as those found in Australia. One especially large Australian genus is Grevillea, with about 360 species.
Cereus is a genus of columnar cacti native to South America (east of the Andes) and islands in the southern Caribbean. In California, the most widely grown species is undoubtedly Cereus hildmannianus, though it is frequently labeled incorrectly as Cereus peruvianus.
The genus Euphorbia is so diverse and widespread that nobody would suppose they all belonged together if the flowers did not demonstrate that they are related. They may be trees, inch-high weeds, or have a spiny cactus-like appearance. One of the true oddities in the genus is Euphorbia obesa, which bears the common name “baseball plant”.
Dasylirion is a genus of 20 or so species native to Mexico and the southwestern US. There are two species which differ from the others in having very narrow needle-like leaves, and these are frequently confused in nurseries and in gardens. These are Dasylirion longissimum and Dasylirion quadrangulatum, and it might be useful to point out their differences.
Agave bovicornuta is native to the northern Sierra Madre Occidental in the Meican states of Sonora, Chihuahua and Sinaloa.
Though many Opuntia fruit are tasty, one species in particular is widely cultivated for fruit production, and this is Opuntia ficus-indica.
Yuccas always put on a wonderful display at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in spring, with their showy clusters of waxy white flowers.
Veltheimia bracteata is clump-forming, with new bulbs added year after year. It is native to coastal scrub vegetation in the Eastern Cape Province, which is located in the southeastern part of the country.