Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Hondebal in Flower

Larryleachia cf. marlothii, the Hondebal, in cultivation at the University of Connecticut, September 2009.

The Hondebal ("dog ball" in Afrikaans...) is a stem-succulent in the Apocynaceae (milkweed family) with a fairly wide distribution in the arid parts of Namibia and western South Africa. The taxonomy of the Hondebals is about as convoluted as it could be for a group with probably just two species, which have been assigned to seven different genera at various times. The name "Trichocaulon," which is how I originally learned them, is a sentimental favorite, but I think they're more properly placed in the genus Larryleachia. For now. I grew the plants in the photo from seed that was labeled at L. cactiformis, but I suspect that they are really the other species, L. marlothii, based on the pale, speckled flowers.

Hondebals can be finicky, but can also grow rapidly if they are kept happy. These plants are flowering at only about a year and a half old. I use a sandy soil with very little organic content, and keep the plants in a really dry, sunny spot right next to the Lithops. So far, Larryleachia has been doing better than many of the other stapeliads in the UConn greenhouse, possibly because the plants are relatively tolerant of winter chills.

5 comments:

Julie said...

Wow...I had never heard of these! Are you saying it is actually a stapeliad? The flower is surely a stapeliad-like flower, for sure! What an awesome succulent...particularly since you grew it from seed! Fantastic!!!

Matt said...

Yes, it's a stapeliad, fairly closely related to the Starfish Flower and such. These are only about 1-2 inches high, though!

Julie said...

Cute, cute, cute!!!!!

Joe said...

So it's not related to Pseudolithos?

Melanie said...

Love the dog ball!