Re: [IGS] Sarcocaulon question

I have been following this thread with interest as I intend to launch
out into collecting Sarcocaulons.  In reviewing information presented on
Peter Likkios web page, a must for those interested in this genus, it is
clear that the species come from a wide range of microclimates.  For

"Of the above fourteen listed species S. camdeboense and S. vanderietiae
appear to be exclusively found in the summer rainfall regions of South
Africa. Occasional winter rainfall may be experienced . S. crassicaule
and S. salmoniflorum are found in winter and summer rainfall regions as
well as the transitional zones between them. Flowering and seed setting
are associated with mild or warm weather and peaks in precipitation. The
remaining species are from the winter rainfall areas in Western Africa
and Namibia. In cultivation it appears best not to let plants go into
dormancy and to water year round. This can be a fine line since
overwatering can cause unnatural growth. Comments on this are solicited.
(P. Likkeio web page)"


"S. vanderietiae is found on shaly ground in the eastern cap in the
vicinity of the Fish river.  This is a summer rainfall area."

"S. peniculinum is the rarest Sarcocaulon species in southern Africa. It
is found in the arid mountainous desert of the southwestern corner of
Namibia. Similar to S. multifidum however S. peniculinum is found in
areas where the Atlantic fogs do not reach."

This suggests that some variation in care may be appropriate.  There is
always the split between the follow-the-habiat-pattern vrs. do what
works methods.  Also to be considered is possible differences in care
required by seedlings and very small species vrs. large specimans and
larger species.  Steven Hammer in his work on Conophytum (1993) suggests
that young plants and smaller growing species of this genus (which share
much of the range and habitat of Sarcocaulon) may benifit from light
misting during the dormant period. Others may not.  Some Sarcocaulon
appear to be oppertunistic and respond to precipitation events when they
occur, others wait till a given season to grow.

It may be wise to consider age, size and habitat preference when working
out a stratagy for managing each species.  Your local conditions also
may affect proper care.  If you find that the plants are not doing well
with the methods you are using, be ready to rethink your approach.  As
with many difficult plants you may kill a few learning the right

Hammers (a good grower) method with Conophytum includes stress reduction
during the dormant period.  This involves shading during hot weather for
some (most) species.  This may be a good method for Sarcocaulon since
most are grown in pots and may not be able to establish a root system
similar to that which occurs in habitat. I don't know if microhabitat
information is available for most species but I would expect it to vary.
Some may occur in exposed locations, others in shaded spots that result
in reduced stress during the dormancy period.

I think all of us want the best looking plants we can grow.  This moves
us to optimise growth in cultivation.  I also think we need to manage
plants in a way that maintains their adaptive stratagies since habitat
destruction may result in extirpation in the wild and plants in
cultivation may end up being the only source of genetic material
available for reintroduction if this becomes a conservation option.

These are just some thoughts and I have no claim on experitse with this
genus (Sarcocaulon).  In any case they are some of the most beautiful
species from South Africa and Namibia and deserve our attention and best

Phil Bunch
San Diego Area (Sunset Zone 23)

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