Contents of the Winter 2011 Northants News

        Crassula triebneri (C. capitella)              Philip  Greswell


This is a plant I like because of the sweet scent of its flowers. I bought it from Kent Cacti some four years ago. It is currently in a three and a half inch pot and the plant itself is about five inches by three across and three inches high, pyramidal in form. 

It is not much higher than this when it is in flower. Leaves are light green with scattered spots, are thick, concave below and flat on top, held in a rosette of four, but slightly further apart and becoming smaller up the stem, which terminates in the inflorescence of very small white flowers. The flowers are so small I do not notice them.

In Vera Higgins’ book ‘Crassulas in Cultivation’, it is named as in the title above. Gordon Rowley in his book, ‘Crassula, A Grower’s Guide’, names it Crassula capitella ssp. thyrsiflora. Crassula triebneri, (named for Wilhelm Triebner), is not a validly published name because there was no Latin description or diagnosis in the publication. The accepted name is Crassula capitella ssp. thyrsiflora (first published as Crassula thyrsiflora in 1778). (Thanks to Len Newton for this information.)

The type locality is in the Eastern Cape, and the plants are also recorded from Western Cape, Free State and Northern Province, all in RSA, as well as Southern Namibia. It is reported to grow on dry rocky slopes in the succulent Karoo and similar semi-desert areas. 

Above: The tiny, but scented, flowers of Crassula capitella.

It is easy to grow in normal well drained cactus compost and standard levels of neglect, but it does not propagate itself in my greenhouse as some species with either adventitious roots, layering or the rooting of fallen leaves. I have not yet tried to propagate it, but it should grow from cuttings. But because the leaves are compacted so close together along the stem and the stem is fragile and weak by comparison, I think it would need to just be pressed lightly in to silver sand on the top of the pot, because to make a traditional cutting from it by removing the leaves from the lower stem would not be possible.

I was told my plant comes from Madagascar, but it does not occur naturally on Madagascar, so if someone got it there it must have been in cultivation or growing as a garden escape. There is no reason why it could not have found its way to Madagascar and of course similar plants grow there as grow in S Africa such as the Aloes. Maybe I will go to see for myself one day! Gordon Rowley’s book shows a picture of it with a purple tinge on the leaf surface, although I believe the form I have is more naturally green. Mine certainly looks a little different but is not grown in full sun, which perhaps explains the light green colour of the leaves.

The plant begins to show its first flowers about the end of July and continues for weeks on end filling the greenhouse with this sweet scent.  I think that for such small flowers to produce such a strong and heady fragrance is surprising. I wish there were more cacti and succulents with scented flowers, although I know that not everybody likes these sweet jasmine like scents! But for those who do, this is a plant to look out for.


Ed: Thanks Philip. This report of a sweet scented Crassula was most interesting. I am familiar with the flowers of Crassula sarcocaulis which have a disgusting smell, so bad I cannot share greenhouse space with it. Luckily this species is nearly hardy and it can take its chances in a cold frame.

So New Year’s resolution is to sniff flowers for their scent, (and especially those in habitat, I may not get another chance and Sclerocactus has scented flowers reported for several species).

        Haworthia gracilis var. tenera              Trevor Wray

Haworthia gracilis var. tenera is an easy species to grow. But when you see a large one in first class condition, and remembering that condition is (nearly) all in shows these days, you have to write an article about it.

The plant was Derek Tribble’s and I have taken pictures of it at several Zone Shows. It was always first in its class. On a visit to his greenhouse on an Open Day I spied it under the staging. How much sun do you give your Haworthias? This one was under the staging in a greenhouse deep in the shade of a huge tree. If it ever saw any sun I would be surprised. Yet the plant was in great condition, flowered and won its prizes in the Zone against many other plants.

I also grow the same clone of Haworthia. My situation permits it some sunshine in summer. It flowers prolifically and each flower stalk bears baby rosettes of the species. When I cut them off they soon rooted to produce new plants. Just a few more years and I might catch Derek’s plant… Dream on!


Above: Derek Tribble’s Haworthia at a zone show and in his greenhouse.

Above:  In the Ed’s collection there are new shoots on the flower stems.

And here's a filler from the printed edition


A Google translation from the Thai original bulletin board...

‘From this I treated him offline.’

‘You hit exactly tight.’

‘I grew up on camera to see again.’

‘I like that from the first offline.’

‘I do not know that Aloe is a lot of this size. What have you actually in.’

‘This bump is less than pretty colours. Aloe ‘Bronzed’ KG hybrid.’


The search was actually for Aloe ‘Fang’ and we can be glad that Google’s Thai translation service does not write for NN!


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