Monday, October 29, 2007

Gasteria bicolor ~ Lawyer's Tongue

Gasteria bicolor

A good succulent for the Phoenix area is Gasteria, especially G. bicolor, which has a high heat tolerance. However, it does prefer light shade in this region. I have several varieties of Gasteria, all acquired as giveaways at our local Cactus and Succulent Society meetings. Gasteria freely offsets, so club members always seem to have an abundance of pups to spare. The genus has never been one to capture my attention, but it's hard to turn down free stuff.

One thing I like about this Gasteria species is the feel of the leaves. They are tough and leather like. They feel like a stiff, new belt. As the plant gets older, the leaves can grow to eight inches long, and they have a tendency to snap if bumped. The plant can get a foot tall and wide. In summer, an Aloe-like (they are related to the Aloe genus) stalk grows from the center of the leaves, and little pink flowers shaped like stomachs appear on the branches. The name Gasteria comes from the Latin word for stomach.

This South African genus contains about 20 species. Several sources say that most Gasteria acquired in nurseries are hybrids, so true species identification is impossible. The G. bicolor is commonly known as Lawyer's Tongue. I'll leave it to you to figure out why.


kml said...

Thanks for visiting my GTS and for your kind words - I have left you a gift on my blog!

Mary said...

I bought one of these last year and it has doubled in size. The tallest leaves are 15 inches high. I'm amazed at how much it has grown. I also have started another one for my oldest grandson who loves gardening. It was a piece that broke off when I was transplanting it and so I put it in a smaller plant. It's having babies too.

Grandma had one of these plants and that's the reason I chose it. Hers wasn't so wide, but grew to be about 3 feet high. It may have been a different variety. Amazing plants. Thanks for sharing.

mr_subjunctive said...

It's true that they're not especially flashy, but there's something to be said for any succulent that does so well indoors, and the shape and texture are weird, so they'll always have a space in my collection. And they're easy enough that beginners can (usually) manage them, which is right sporting of the genus, I think. Not like those snobby Aloes.