Our Plants

January 2010 Plant Highlight: Othonna capensis

There are many methods employed by plants for coping with dry conditions, and storing moisture in swollen leaves or stems (that is, being a succulent) is one of these.  However, this strategy is little used in the daisy family, now called the Asteraceae, but formerly known as the Compositae.  This is a very large family found all around the world, with well over a thousand genera, but succulence is notable in only two of these:  Senecio and Othonna.

Image of O. capensis

Othonnas are mostly native to southern Africa, and they are particularly concentrated in the winter-rainfall areas of western South Africa and adjacent southern Namibia.  Many of them have succulent stems, with plump bases that make them attractive as bonsai subjects, but a few have succulent leaves.  One of the latter is Othonna capensis, a ground-hugging creeper with fat green leaves and small bright-yellow daisy flowers.  The term “        capensis” means “from the Cape”, and is frequently used for plants originating in the southwest corner of Africa, near the Cape of Good Hope. This is the case with O. capensis, but it should be noted that some plants bearing this title come from other capes in other parts of the world.

Image of O. capensis

Othonna capensis has branching slender stems which trail outward, rooting where they come into contact with soil.  The newer leaves look like light green jellybeans, while the older ones lower down on the stem are longer (up to about an inch, or 2½ cm) and resemble miniature chubby fingers.  This species is very free-flowering and is in bloom most of the year, but the flowers are particularly abundant in the winter months.  As with other daisies, the floral heads give the appearance of being a single flower, when in fact they are a cluster of tiny flowers.  These heads are about ½ inch (1¼ cm) across.  

Mission Statement
The mission of the Ruth Bancroft Garden, Inc. is to preserve this exceptional example of garden design and to continue to develop its collection of water-conserving plants for the education and enjoyment of the public.
Centennial Celebration
We are celebrating Garden Founder Ruth Bancroft's 100th year throughout 2009. If you would like to get involved in this historic milestone, you can help by contributing to the Centennial Fund or by attending on of our many special events this year.
Grant Funders
The Ruth Bancroft Garden would like to recognize the Quest Foundation for funding our Education Coordinator’s position, and the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust for funding our Volunteer Coordinator’s position, as well as for their generous support over the years.
The Ruth Bancroft Garden GardenConservancy