Contents of the Winter 2008 Northants News

             Sansevieria cylindrica Trevor Wray     

The FL and I stopped by the garden centre near Stowe-on-the-Wold for a cuppa and to stretch our legs. Did we buy any plants? Well it’s difficult to resist… Of course we bought some! Near the checkout my eye was caught by some curious house plants that I thought I should recognise. Yes, Sansevieria cylindrica had made its way to the garden centre. They were cuddled up with some more familiar ‘mother-in-law’s tongues’ sansevierias and big silver leaved bromeliads. An attractive arrangement. (Right)

I am not sure that such an evil looking spiky (its common name is apparently “Spear Sansevieria”) has a place in modern décor with children or pets around but it is certainly an interesting species. In search of more info I turned to the IHSP for Monocots, but which family? I found that Sansevieria is a genus in the Dracaenaceae family along with Cordyline and Dracaena; both only borderline succulents, but often cultivated in coloured leaf forms. Incidentally the Cordyline and Dracaena descriptions were written by C. C. Walker: our Colin. 

As to Sansevieria cylindrica, what can we glean from IHSP. Well it has erect cylindrical, leaves from 60-150 cm (2-5 ft) with a hard white tip. And this is a house plant? The internet adds that the small white flowers are fragrant.


Sansevieria cylindrica in a garden centre display

The Wray budget did not run to the plant and coming from Angola it would surely die quickly in the greenhouse anyway. I have real reservations about the ‘Elfin Safety’ aspect of the plant in my house. Still interesting, very interesting…

Sansevieria cylindrica propagation

So the situation rested until I visited Rodney Sims collection on the Zone open day. There was a single rosette, or perhaps I should say spear for sale - cheap… heat? maybe the spare bedroom? Only poking one eye out on the way to the car it made its way home. We’ll have to see.

Soon after I also met this species at the Obesa Nursery in Graff-Reinet, South Africa. Broken spears are inserted in compost and watered, producing plantlets along the snapped edge in the style of Gasteria propagation. (Left) However the young S. cylindrica were not cylindrical but a normal rosette looking plant. The spears appear later. As I said, interesting.

Incidentally I rate Sansevieria hahnii in its many coloured leaf cultivars as a super house (or office) plant. It loves a sunny windowsill, survives infrequent watering and always looks great. However propagations soon die in November in the greenhouse, even before the frost gets in!



My First Flowering of ×Tavarorbea ‘Red Leopard’          Colin C. Walker


In February 2000 Marjorie, Amy & I went to New Zealand for the first time. One of the succulent highlights was a visit to the nursery run by Martin Walker (not a relative) and Tim Saunderson called Coromandel Cacti, on the outskirts of Auckland. For succulent enthusiasts this place was a haven, with large aloes and agaves grown in pots for use in outdoor plantings, and much, much more. On a smaller scale I was shown an unusual stapeliad that they were calling ‘Red Leopard’. This was raised from paired follicles (fruits) produced on a plant of Tavaresia barklyi at Coromandel Cacti in 1992, when it was based in Port Charles, Coromandel Peninsula, North Island, New Zealand. The only other stapeliad in flower in the greenhouse at the time was Orbea variegata, so the parents of this hybrid are: Tavaresia barklyi x Orbea variegata. When I first saw the plants they were growing well, flowering and being propagated for sale. Martin and Tim suggested that I name this plant and they offered to provide any information and pictures needed.

Nothing much further happened until 2004 when Martin visited England at the time of the BCSS National Show. We met up at Spalding and he then came to visit us in Aspley Guise, clutching a plant or two of ‘Red Leopard’. I then had the plant, so there was no excuse for procrastinating any longer and in November the same year the plant was formally described in the New Zealand Cactus and Succulent Journal and named ×Tavarorbea ‘Red Leopard’. The new intergeneric name was an amalgam of the two parental generic names and was devised because the seed of the one known cross was produced on a plant of Tavaresia as the female parent, with the male parent being the Orbea. The cultivar name ‘Red Leopard’ was suggested by Martin and aptly describes the purple-red spotted-blotched appearance of the flowers.

×Tavarorbea ‘Red Leopard’ grows robustly (at least for some folk!) and is far less temperamental than Tavaresia is in cultivation, and hence is more akin to Orbea variegata, which is amongst the toughest stapeliads in captivity. It makes an ideal hanging-pot plant, in which the flowers dangle over the pot edge. It first flowered in the UK in Tina’s collection in 2006, but it’s taken me till this summer to flower it for myself, hence the photos in this article are of the first flower I’ve managed to produce. Never before had I been such an avid bud-watcher. I’d waited four years for this flowering event to happen and timed to perfection the flower opened when we were away on a two-day university open day in Cornwall! However, all was not lost because unlike night-flowering Cereus, for instance, stapeliad flowers are relatively long-lasting. Indeed the ‘Red Leopard’ flower lasted nearly a whole week, so it’s far better value than many cactus flowers!!

×Tavarorbea ‘Red Leopard’ is clearly intermediate between its parents, although it appears that the features of the Orbea parent are more prominent, such that the hybrid is closer to Orbea than it is to Tavaresia. The stem is low-growing and freely clump-forming, being well-branched (Figure 1). Overall the stems are similar to the Orbea, but the tubercles are tipped with small stiff spines, absent from the Orbea, but significantly smaller than those of Tavaresia, so the prominent spine-tipped ribs of Tavaresia are far less obvious in ×Tavarorbea (Figure 1). The flower is also closer to that of Orbea (Figure 2): the long, deep, narrow tube of Tavaresia is replaced by a shallow bowl-shaped tube (Figure 3), and the brown-purple blotches of O. variegata have become more definitely purple-brown spots. The characteristic droplet-tipped outer corona lobes of Tavaresia are also absent (Figure 2).

Figure 1. ×Tavarorbea ‘Red Leopard’ in bud growing in a 5 cm square pot. Note the spine-tipped tubercles on the stems.


×Tavarorbea is the latest in a long line of intergeneric hybrid stapeliads, so it’s far from unique. A number of naturally-occurring wild intergeneric hybrids have been recorded, whilst several artificial intergeneric crosses have been produced in cultivation, either by accident or by controlled cross pollination. The best-known of these hybrids was produced as a chance occurrence in the wild, namely ×Hoodiapelia (Hoodia × Stapelia), formerly known as Luckhoffia, that was found and brought into cultivation in 1933. However, as with ×Tavarorbea, the majority of intergeneric hybrids have arisen in cultivation. Orbea is a common parent in many of these hybrids, whilst Tavaresia is rare; one cross includes the unrelated Brachystelma. I hope you’ll agree that this latest hybrid stapeliad is an attractive and interesting addition to our collections.



Figure 2. Face view of the flower of ×Tavarorbea ‘Red Leopard’, about 5 cm across with the corolla lobes folded back. When first open, before the lobes curl back, the flower is about 8 cm across. You can click the image for a closer look,

Figure 3. Outer view of the flower of ×Tavarorbea ‘Red Leopard’. Note the shallow bell-shaped tube that is more prominent than the flower tube of Orbea variegata, but wider and shallower than the long, narrow tube of the flower of Tavaresia.



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