Monday, February 4, 2008

Cute As A Button


Aren't these the cutest things? I purchased this little arrangement at the Mesemb Open House I attended yesterday, just because I didn't want to leave empty-handed. I don't know the identity of these members of the Mesembryanthemaceae (Mesemb) family, but I think all of them are Lithops, or Living Stones. They are also called Living Rocks, Flowering Stones, and Finger Magnets.

From what I've been reading, I'm not sure these little leaf succulents from South Africa and Namibia are for me. Their care is more complicated than I want to deal with, and the thought of learning another set of genus and species names gives me a headache. If I can keep these little guys alive for a season, I'll be surprised. If by some miracle they live to flower in the fall, daisy-like flowers, usually white or yellow, will appear from the split section.

Lithops are mimicry plants. In habitat, they are nearly invisible because they blend into their surroundings. In times of drought, they shrivel below the soil level, where they aren't seen at all. Once a year, the plant goes into dormancy and a new plant begins to grow inside the old. The old leaves serve as a nutrient source for the newly forming plant, and they will eventually be nothing more than dry skin, sort of like onion skin. Since they have extensive root systems, the plants need larger pots than one would think for their size.

The Lithops genus is oddly fascinating, but I think I've learned all I really want to know about them. I don't want to start another specialty hobby. One thing I know for sure about them is that they're cute!

9 comments:

Crafty Gardener said...

They are quite fascinating ... and using your imagination you could see all sorts of things there.

kate said...

I understand the not wanting to learning another new specialty - you are already dealing with enough cactus and succulent collections! These are cute little plants and were interesting to read about. They do look like stones with beautiful markings.

Barbara said...

Indeed very special and nice looking plants. I do wonder how they are developing and whether they will flower. We call them too "living stones" as some of them really look like beautiful stones.

nikkipolani said...

Aiyana, they are indeed adorable! They don't look too delicate - do they like sun?

Julie said...

OH my gosh these really are adorable! I can't actually believe you would not want to know all about these cute fellers!!! They just seem like some new thing you would LOVE to LOVE!!! LOL...that's just the way I see it! Hee hee heee....

Tracy said...

I love the look of these too, but I share the idea that I don't want to learn about a whole new kind of plant, and their care does seem like a bit too much for me. They require special care, and I think I neglect my plants a little too much....lol. Wonderful find though, I would try them out too if I had the chance, and didn't have to go broke over them. Great pic!!

Shady Gardener said...

These are very cute! Several years ago I purchased a few for a garden dish in my classroom. They did alright for awhile, but I wasn't very successful with them in the long run. It's a good "conversation piece," at least! :-)

Julie said...

Came back for another look at your little "buttons". Love them!!!

No Rain said...

The problem with trying to grow these leaf succulents is that they can't take sun, can't take shade, can't be overwatered, can't be underwatered, etc., etc. They are so much fun to look at and there are hundreds of varieties, but even with that, I just can't see spending the time learning their specialized care.