This species was the first Conophytum described by Carl Peter
Thunberg way back in 1791.
truncatum is a slow-growing, clump-forming, perennial succulent
that forms huge tight mounds of sometimes many hundreds of pea-shaped
heads, each one of them consisting of one pair of reduced, fused
succulent leaves that get absorbed and regenerated every year. This
many morphological and
geographical variant that was early classified as different independent
species, but nowadays all this forms are considered part of a multiform
species, where each form is linked to others by populations of plants
with intermediate characteristics.
Bodies (paired leaves):
It is very variable in form, colour and markings with a
sunken fissure at the flattened tip. Stems ranges from small (4-5 mm in
diam.) to large (25 mm in diam.!); from completely unmarked specimens to
very heavily dark spotted or lined, and from bright green, grey-green,
blue-green to having a heavy reddish coloration all often within a
Flowers: The small flowers with spidery petals are nocturnal, and
typically in shades of ivory-white, creamy, straw-yellow or salmon and
very faint scented.
Blooming: season: Plants flower during the fall months; each
blossom opens at night. During the day the flowers close.
Roots: Very rudimentary filamentous root system
C. truncatum JE5664
C. truncatum Oudtshoorn
Family: Mesebrianthemaceae (Aizoaceae)
Scientific name: Conophytum truncatum
(Thunberg) N.E.Br. 1920
Widespread in the Little
Karoo , Western Cape, South Africa. C. truncatum is the
the easternmost species. Type locality
are winter grower succulents found in extreme dry areas in shale or
quartzite rock crevices (or on gravel) - known as obligate rock dwellers
- where they don't have to compete with other plants for water, space
and light. They are found generally growing on east, south or
west-facing rocky outcrops and slopes - very seldom north-facing (too
hot). They are often found growing in amongst mosses and lichens and
other shade lovers. They grow, receiving a bit of winter rain, none at
summer, but ocean fog moves inland in the evenings, and this moisture
sustains a wealth of succulent life in this harsh semi-desert region.
Their flowers are pollinated by nocturnal moths.
- Mesembryanthemum truncatum Carl
Peter Thunberg 1791
Mesembryanthemum albertense, C.
brevitubum, C. caespitosum, C. cibdelum, Mesembryanthemum familiare,
Mesembryanthemum malleoliforme, Mesembryanthemum minusculum, C. morganii,
C. multipunctatum, C. orientale, C. parvipunctum, C. peersii, C. peersii
var. multipunctatum, C. permaculatum, Mesembryanthemum purpusii, C.
purpusii, C. renniei, C. spirale, C. stegmannianum, C. steytlervillense,
C. subglobosum, C. translucens, Mesembryanthemum truncatellum, C.
truncatellum, Mesembryanthemum truncatum, C. truncatum var. brevitubum,
C. truncatum f. parvipunctum, C. truncatum f. rennei, C. wagneriorum.
Cultivation: All the forms of C. truncatum are easy to
grow. These plants grow on winter rain and head for summer dormancy.
They require little water; otherwise its epidermis breaks (resulting in
unsightly scars). Water minimally in summer, (only when the plant
starts shrivelling), but it will generally grow even in summer if given
water. Water regularly in winter after the previous year's leaves have
dried up. Requires good drainage. Keep cool and shaded in summer, it
needs full sun or light shade. Hardy to -2°C. Ensure a very good
ventilation. Avoid to repot frequently. This plant may stay in the same
pot for many years.
Propagation: It can be
reproduced both by cuttings and seeds. Take the cutting from a grown-up
mother plant. Each
cutting must contain one or more heads along with
a fraction of root.
Notes: Plants of the genus
Conophytum are also known as 'living pebbles'. During
the rest period (the summer months in Europe) a new body forms inside
the old, gradually taking all the substances from it until all that
remains is the skin, which dries and protects the young plant from the
heat of the sun and excess evaporation of water. The resting Conophytum
protected by this dry cover resembles a pebble and hence the name
'living pebble'. The growth period of most species is from August to
March. The temperature should be about 10 to 12°C
conspecific taxa, varieties, forms and cultivars of Conophytum
Taxon has lots of synonyms ( like
many other cacti) whit several controversial varieties and subspecies
and comprises a multitude of different forms, but where each form is
linked to others by populations of plants with intermediate