February 2016 Plant Highlight: Titanopsis calcarea

by Brian Kemble

The Ice Plant Family (Aizoaceae) is full of botanical marvels and oddities. A case in point is Titanopsis calcarea, from the arid interior of South Africa. With its bumpy-textured leaves, this species looks almost reptilian.

Titanopsis calcarea is a small plant, with compact rosettes of leaves measuring up to 2 inches in diameter (5 cm). In time, it forms a compact clump to 4 inches wide or more (10 cm). The spatulate leaves are often blue-green or grayish, but they can take on tinges of purple, orange or tan in strong light. Their texture is truly remarkable, with rounded warty bumps covering both surfaces of the upper portion of the leaves. This species is winter-flowering, and like many other kinds of ice plants, its flowers don’t open until the middle of the day. The flowers are yellow and about ¾ of an inch across (20 mm).
T. calcarea occurs in nature in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province and the Orange Free State. The plants are found in gravelly flat places with a limestone substrate, and they can blend in remarkably well with their pebbly surroundings. The rainfall is concentrated in the summer months, which is when the plants are in active growth.
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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 following grant funders:

The Quest Foundation for funding our Education Coordinator’s position

The Mervyn L. Brenner Foundation and The Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust for funding our directional signs

The California Horticultural Society for funding towards our restoration projects

The Bonita Garden Clubfor funding restoration and education projects


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