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Plant Highlight: Cotyledon tomentosa

September 2014

Cotyledon tomentosa is densely branched and attains a height of up to 20 inches (50 cm), but it is often shorter than this. The thick roundish green leaves are up to 1.4 inches long (3.5 cm), with a row of stubby little teeth at the tips. The teeth are often tipped with red or purple.

This species comes into flower in summer, with the flowering extending into fall. The short inflorescences bear clusters of a few urn-shaped flowers whose 5 petals curl back at the tips. The flower color ranges from yellow-orange to light orange-red or pinkish, with short thick sepals clasping the base. The plant’s leaves are covered with short hairs, and the hairiness extends to the flower stalks, the sepals and the petals.

Cotyledon tomentosa is native to South Africa, growing in semi-arid inland areas in the south-central part of the country. It is found in rocky places, often wedged between rocks. Though it can take temperatures down to freezing without injury, it should be given some protection if the thermometer drops much below this for any length of time.