Avonia albissima is native from South Africa. It is widespread also in northern Namibia. It grows in the deserts of Nama Karoo and Succulent Karoo, where it hides itself in cracks of the rocks of slopes or quartz flats. Its whitish-greyish colour make it hardly distinguishable from the rocks. Its roots manage to penetrate the most difficult rock matter. Unlike most plants, it absorbs nutrients directly from sand, which is rich in minerals, instead of absorbing them from humus. This species is widespread and is not threatened with extinction.
Avonia albissima is a dwarf plant which forms a group of small (max 5 cm long and 5 mm thick), almost unbranched, green-whitish stems like tentacles, all of them coming from the same root group. Its leaves are very small, green, hidden by whitish, hairy stipules. “Stipule” is a botanical term used to design part of plants which look like leaves. They can have many functions: in this case, they serve as protections from the intense solar radiation and from dehydration. The inflorescence is a stem from which little, white flowers develop.
Avonia albissima needs a bright spot and well draining soils: in its natural environment it grows among the rocks! It doesn’t tolerate excess of water. Repotting is not necessary: Avonias are dwarf succulent and don’t overcome the height of 10-15 centimeters. They are used to poor soils, so be careful while putting nitrogen: use it in small doses, more or less half of the quantity recommended for the other plants.
Propagation of Avonia albissima is done by seeds.
The name of the genus Avonia comes from the Latin word “avus”, which means “grandfather”, referring to its white scales.