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Encyclopedia of Succulents

  Ophthalmophyllum limpidum
(Syn: Conophytum limpidum)


Ophthalmophyllum (Conophytum) limpidum SB1198 Tafelkop, Achab, South Africa

This species has very handsome soft and shining green body.


Description: It is a small groundcover plant similar to a Lithops but with shiny green epidermis. Good clumper.
Bodies (paired leaves):  Up to 20 mm large, 8 mm tall (more in cultivation) Nice, very smooth, glabrous, pale green, jade green or shining grass-green, never reddened that go yellowish when stressed. Leaves spotted at the margin and strongly windowed transparent at the tips.
Flowers: White or (usually) pale to bright pink, cherry scented with yellow stamens.
Blooming season: Autumn.
Fruits: 5-6 locular.
It is the glassiest and mostly densely branched member of Conophytum/Ophtalmophyllum, with the shortest papillae.

Comment: Conophytum/Ophtalmophyllum:

These plants forms a group within the large genus Conophytum and for a long time they was considered a separate genus, Ophthalmophyllum. Generally the Ophthalmophyllums look like they are formed from glass, ranging in colour from coke-bottle green to brown, to quite reddish. Some of these plants remain solitary, others clump quite readily; some are touchy in cultivation, some grow easily. They all resemble each other and are easy to recognize as a group. They include species such as C. friedrichiae, C. limpidum, the slightly fuzzy C. pubescens, and the clump forming C. praesectum.




Family: Mesebrianthemaceae (Aizoaceae)

Scientific name:  Ophthalmophyllum limpidum S.A. Hammer
in: Conophytum 1993:247

Taxonomy: Genus Conophytum, Subgenus Derembergia Ophtalmophyllum, Section Ophthalmophyllum.

Origin South Africa, Namaqualand. Type locality: Namiesberge

Habitat: It grows on quartz slopes and on sheer faces, usually half shaded. 


  • Ophthalmophyllum subfenestratum sensu Tischer
    In: Kuas 1967:73.

Ophthalmophyllum (Conophytum) limpidum
SH385 Achabseberg.
In backlighting to show the transparent windowed body


Notes: They are partly subterranean, with only the clear 'window' in each leaf tip exposed above soil. A type of optical system exists whereby a layer of apical tissue rich in calcium oxalate crystals acts as a filter to intense sunlight before it reaches the thin chlorophyllous layer below. They are also called mimicry plants as they show a striking similarity to their background rocks and are difficult to detect when not in flower. These are the commonly known as pebble plants or living stones; each species is associated with one particular type of rock formation and occurs nowhere else. Its soil-embedded, subterranean growth form also reduces the need for chemical defences against herbivores.

Cultivation:  It is relatively easy to grow. These plants grow on winter rain and head for summer dormancy. The growing season in northern hemisphere is from September to March. They require little water; otherwise its epidermis breaks (resulting in unsightly scars).  Water minimally in summer, (only occasional misting 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.  It enjoy some shade (avoid direct sun as it grows wild among rocks and under the shade of other plants) and in summer it need to be kept in a cool area.  Hardy to -2C. Ensure a very good ventilation. Avoid to repot frequently. This plant may stay in the same pot for many years. Plants grown in larger containers have frequently relatively poor flowers. It might improve when the plants are given their own, small individual pots.

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.

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