Conophytum ficiforme

Synonyms:

Conophytum altile
Conophytum assimile
Conophytum ficiforme var. placitum
Conophytum fossulatum
Conophytum odoratum
Conophytum pallidum
Conophytum placitum
Mesembryanthemum altile
Mesembryanthemum assimile
Mesembryanthemum ficiforme
Mesembryanthemum pallidum
Mesembryanthemum placitum

Habitat:

Conophytum ficiforme is widespread in South Africa and southern Namibia, in areas with winter rainfall between 50 and 200 millimeters per year. Its habitat is always rocky: the strange shape and the small size of this tiny plant are in fact perfect to hide among the rocks! Its favorite spots to grow are the rocky slopes and the cracks in the rocks.

Description:

Conophytum ficiforme is a very unusual dwarf plant. We would expect a plant to have leaves, stems, or branches: Conophytum ficiforme, like all other Conophytums, does not exactly meet these expectations: its strange appearance has fascinated succulent lovers for more than two centuries. Conophytum ficiforme is in fact a dwarf plant, so dwarf that it grows practically flat on the ground: it is a set of small globose stems, dark green “tubercles” that emerge from the ground for a few millimeters at most, as if they were green pebbles, so much so that, in its natural environment, a distracted passerby could step on it without realizing it and mistake it for a strange, small rock. Conophytum ficiforme, in particular, has this name, “ficiforme”, because of the shape of its small tubercles, which resemble small dark green figs, 15 millimeters thick and 20 long, often with two distinct lobes. This plant has no evident leaves: the photosynthesis is therefore carried out from the surface of these same tubercles. The flowers are much more conspicuous than the rest of the plant: pink, star-shaped, with numerous linear petals, they last long and sprout in autumn. They usually open in the evening and are very fragrant.

Cultivation:

Since they are from the southern hemisphere, the vegetative period of Conophytums goes from the end of summer to the beginning of autumn. Apart from this small fact to keep in mind, they are not very difficult to grow. All Conophytums, so even C. ficiforme, require a very bright position. Direct sunshine is fine, with the exception of the middle hours of summer days. They love heat but can withstand temperatures up to 5°C. Be extremely careful with watering and make sure that the soil is completely dry before each watering. Conophytum ficiforme is a very undemanding plant in terms of soil. You can also use a standard soil for cacti. Fertilize only at the beginning of summer, with a specific product for succulents. It is important to choose large, shallow pots to give the plant a chance to reproduce spontaneously and to cover the surface.

Propagation:

Propagation is generally done through suckers, which the plant produces in large quantities. Suckers can be used as cuttings.

Curiosity:

Plants belonging to the genus Conophytum have sedative properties due to some alcaloids present in their tissues.

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