Our Plants

May 2010 Plant Highlight: Lampranthus spectabilis

by Brian Kemble

L. spectabilis plant image

The ice plant family, Aizoaceae, contains a large and diverse assemblage of succulent plants, many of which have very showy flowers.  The older name Mesembryanthemaceae  is often used for these plants, and this is shortened to “mesembs”.  The great majority are found in southern Africa, and they range from bushes to creeping ground-covers to tufts or clumps to a single pair of fused leaves.  Among the spreading types used as ground-covers, one of the better-known genera is Lampranthus.

Lampranthus spectabilis makes a brilliant display in spring, covering itself in flowers which are about 2 inches (5 cm) across.  With their ring of narrow petals, the flowers bear a superficial resemblance to some members of the daisy family, but they are not at all closely related.  The color range in L. spectabilis varies from pink to red to magenta to purple, offset by the pale yellow of the pollen at the center.

L. spectabilis flower image

The wiry stems of L. spectabilis spread out horizontally, bearing small blue-green finger-like leaves which can be up to 3 inches (8 cm) in length, but are often much shorter.  Plants spread vigorously to create an attractive carpet, but the stems can easily be clipped if they go too far in a given direction.  In time, a patch may become thin in spots where branches have died back after putting all their energy into flowers, so it may be desirable to start new plants from cuttings, which root easily.  L. spectabilis thrives in coastal or inland gardens, as long as good drainage is provided.

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.
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