Gasteria batesiana f. variegata (Knoppies Gasteria) is a charming succulent, up to 4 inches (10 cm) tall and up to 12 inches (30 cm) in…
If one wishes to acquire the less commonly offered Gasteria species and varieties, it will be necessary to deal with succulent specialty nurseries or to make the acquaintance of other gasteriaphiles. Some of the well known succulent nurseries operate as mail order businesses. These outfits have a much more extensive array of Gasterias for sale. Check the "Links" section of this website for a listing of quality succulent nurseries with good selections of Gasterias. I am particularly impressed with the selection, quality and good business practices of Burks' Nursery, Arkansas, USA. Also, from time to time the Gasteria Reference Collection itself releases limited numbers of plants and seeds. Any such distributions of material will be announced on these pages.
I believe that there is much more to enjoy and learn about Gasterias than most succulentophiles suspect. I foresee that the genus will become more popular in the coming years. I have decided on my own to establish a Gasteria Reference Collection for North America. broyeurs vegetaux pas cher.
In my opinion what makes Gasterias interesting is that each species is quite unique. In related genera, such as Haworthia, one often encounters entities which are hard to place in one species or anotherвЂ“lines of distinction are uncertain. This seldom occurs in genus Gasteria.
Gasteria acinacifolia is unique from other Gasterias in that it inhabits coastal dunes exclusively. This species is always found close enough to the ocean so that one can hear breaking waves of surf, and often see it as well. I have seen acinacifolia at many seashore locations, from Port Alfred in the east to KnysnaвЂ™s вЂThe HeadsвЂ™ in the west. It always was found growing in the same situation - literally a вЂstoneвЂ™s throwвЂ™ from the sea. There is no doubt that the plants must contend with salt-laden air, but it is also air that is very cool and humid. Even in the full sun, they are kept quite cool and hydrated. And the wind, it blows constantly
Along these beaches, just beyond the highest tide, there grows a very dense, low-growing vegetation. At first glance this shrubbery appears to be only knee-high, so you get the idea that you can just walk in amongst it, or even on top of it. But once you get there you discover that the shrubs are chest-high and higher. They take root in the sand dune and then grow up above it in a dense canopy, and it is this canopy that gives the appearance of being a short carpet of vegetation covering each dune. There is no way into and through this stuff, trust me! And yet this is exactly where one finds acinacifolia in small breaks where the plants are growing on the edge of the thicket.
Another significant aspect of Gasteria acinacifolia is size. It is one of the two largest species (the other being G. excelsa). However, acinacifolia is large in overall length of leaves which gives each plant a great span, leaftip to leaftip, while excelsa is simply massive, with big, thick leaves. There is relatively little variation within the Gasteria acinacifolia complex, far less than one sees with some other species (e.g. carinata, et al.). Other than some differences in foliage color and size, an acinacifolia is always an acinacifolia. It is a grand species and quite rewarding to cultivate вЂ“ if you have the room!
"Something old, something new. " could be said of Gasteria armstrongii. This "new" species of Gasteria was once a variety of Gasteria nitida. However in the last week (this essay written July 30, 2004), I have received news that Ernst van Jaarsveld, the Dean of Gasteria taxonomists, has recently decided, by virtue of DNA studies, that armstrongii is a species in its own right. This is an interesting development for old Gasteria students like me, because I have often wondered whether armstrongii was just a "kind" of nitida. True, one does see intermediate forms that appear to be part nitida and part armstrongii, but in its most characteristic form, Gasteria armstrongii is very different indeed from the typical Gasteria nitida.
More will be said on distinctions in the essay on Gasteria nitida, but basically Gasteria armstrongii has the following diagnostic traits: a distichous habit, leaves short, rounded and thick, and held low to the ground, of one dark-green color without prominent spotting, and a comparatively limited geographic distribution mainly in and around Humansdorp, Eastern Cape Province. The roots of Gasteria armstrongii are also different from nitida, being thick with little branching, and endowed with the ability to contract, physically pulling the plant down into the ground during dry weather. It is well known among those conducting Gasteria field work that armstrongii can be exceedingly difficult to locate - the leaves are more or less horizontal and when the whole plant is at or below grade, the surrounding soil begins to cover up the plant!
Gasteria armstrongii contains some of the most handsome individual clones of any species. With their dark-green to almost mahogany-brown coloration, sculpturally compact leaves, and convenient small size, armstrongii plants deserve a place in any Gasteria hobbyist's collection. Gasteria batesiana is the Gasteria that first caught my interest, and eventually led me to specialize in this South African succulent genus. Actually it wasn't even a real plant that I first saw rather it was a wonderfully painted color plate that appears in Ernst van Jaarsveld's book, "Gasterias of South Africa". The painting is by the late Ellaphie Ward-Hilhorst. I've included it here along with photographs of the various batesianas in order to show you what captivated me!
As can be seen, especially in the color plate, Gasteria batesiana has an almost reptilian appearance. The minute, differently colored tubercles on the leaves' surfaces very much resemble those minute scales that comprise reptiles' skins. That it also has but a few leaves, and those quite "chunky" and "heavy", carries forward the association.
As can be seen by the photos on this page, Gasteria batesiana does have quite a bit of variation from one population and region to another. On the whole it is a northern species in South Africa, inhabiting some of the more subtropical climes. The various forms have often been named, or given cultivar status, and one has gone on to become a variety with botanical taxonomic status (i.e. the Penge plants, now called variety dolomitica, q.v.). The type plant for the species is similar to the color plate painting mentioned previously, and these plants are found in the Pongola Valley area. It is the form most often encountered in the trade and has been given the name 'Pongola'.
Gasteria batesiana presents few problems in cultivation, being an exceedingly "forgiving" species when it comes to the sometimes hit-or-miss culture given it by novice succulent enthusiasts. It can hence be recommended as a good species of Gasteria to start with in cultivation.
Like other succulents, these plants don't need much water. Allow the soil to almost completely dry out between waterings. If the plant gets rainfall outdoors, usually no supplemental watering will be necessary.
Gasteria plants generally like warm summers and slightly cool winters (down to 50 degrees Fahrenheit). Frost can be deadly to the plants. During warm weather, gasteria leaves might turn a lighter, brighter color, which is perfectly natural. Moreover, like most succulents, gasteria plants don't enjoy very humid environments. So if you live in a humid climate be sure only to water your plant when the soil is dry to prevent rot, as the humidity will provide much of the plant's required moisture.