SUCCULENTS
On the premises of Eden@Astonbay as well as the adjacent premises of the Gibson’s, the owners, you can view a very extensive collection of weird and wonderful succulent plants and if you like you can even buy a surplus “plant pet” for a keep sake.

 

In their book Succulents of South Africa a guide to the regional diversity, Ernst van Jaarsveldt, Ben-Erik van Wyk, and Gideon Smith (2002) said that Succulents are found in semiarid and arid regions throughout the New and Old worlds . Africa and its associated islands have some of the world’s richest plant centres, notably South Africa, the Rift Valley in eastern Africa, the horn of Africa (in North East Africa), Madagascar, and the canary islands, as does the Yemen Republic in adjacent Arabia.

Diversity is further by physical features (mountain ranges) and geological complexity, resulting in local dry sites and a variety of soil types. As result, the fragmentation of plant populations is promoted. Perhaps the most important reason for South Africa’s high succulent plant diversity is the seasonality of rainfall. It is not only the occurrence of winter rainfall along the west coast that has contributed to the diversity of succulents, but also the regularity and predictability of these rains.

Growth of succulents in the winter-rainfall Karoo regions coincides with the wet season (May to September). During this period, evaporation is low and frosts are uncommon or mild. Most succulents from this region rest during the dry summer months, surviving on the moisture taken up and stored during the preceding winter months. In contrast, succulents from the summer-rainfall Karoo regions (the Great Karoo and Upper Karoo) grow during the wet summer months (September to April). The intensity of the rainfall causes rapid runoff and high rates of evaporation.

Ernst van Jaarsveldt and Daryl Koutnik in their remarkable book, Cotyledon and Tylecodon (2004), say that the family Crassulaceae (crassus means fat) in the world’s third largest succulent family ( the Cactaceae and Aizoaceae being larger), and many members of the family are commonly grown as garden and container plants (indoors and outdoors) all over the world. The largest concentration of species is in South Africa and the two genera Tylecodon and Cotyledon treated here are horticulturally well known, especially Cotyledon.

The writers also give us more very interesting facts about the the distribution of succulents in the attached schematic which highlights the importance of South Africa as a succulent “heritage” location.

Futhermore they say that the family Crassulaceae are dicotyledonous plants belonging to the order Rosales. It is essentially a cosmopolitan family but is absent from Australia and much of South America. The family consists of 1500 species. The genus Sedum is the largest in the family Crassulaceae with some 428 species. One of the main centres of distribution is in the dry, karroid, winter-rainfall regions of southern Africa. Five genera are represented in southern Africa: Adromischus, Cotyledon, Crassula, Kalanchoe and Tylecodon. Crassula is the largest genus with about 150 species.
 


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