Avonia papyracea is an endemism from South Africa, present only in little Karoo and Great Karoo, in the Eastern Cape province. It grows on quartz rocks in the ecoregion of Karroid veld, where it can easily be confused with the rocks between which they grow because of its white colour. This species is not threatened with extinction.
Avonia papyracea is a dwarf, white, unusual perennial plant. It’s composed of many white cylindrical stems arranged like tentacles, with a diameter of 5 mm, 5-10 centimeters long. The stems are white because they are covered of white scales, which are the stipules. A stipule is like a second leaf which is generally located below the leaf. In Avonia Papyracea, the stipules are bigger than the leaves, and they hide them. Their role is to protect the leaves from the intense solar radiation and from the high temperatures. The leaves are really small, globose, green. The roots of Avonia papyracea are really fine and fibrous. Flowers appear on the top of the stems. They are tiny and they have five creamy-white petals. They last just three-four hours.
Avonia papyracea needs a bright spot, exposed to direct sunlight, for flowering and develop. Its roots are fine and fibrous, and need a well-draining substrate. You can use a cactus mix as a substrate, or either add perlite to a normal substrate. Clay, shallow pots are recommended to help dreinage. Repotting is generally not necessary, being Avonia papyracea a dwarf succulent. This plant can survive until -5ºC, but, in winter, to avoid damages, it’s better to keep it indoors. Water Avonia papyracea twice a week in summer, with little water. Wait until the soil is completely dry to water again. Avoid watering in winter.
The propagation of Avonia papyracea is done by seeds. Sow them at a temperature between 15 and 20ºC and keep them moist until they germinate (generally in two weeks).
Avonia papyracea was used by local population as a starter of the fermentation of home-made beer.