Family: Asclepiadaceae (subfamily: Apocynaceae)
Habitat: Eastern and Southern Africa
Cultivation: The Hernia requires quite high temperatures and prefers the sunlight. A careful cultivation increases the chance to enjoy its beautiful bloom in the spring.
Curiosity: This name comes from Justin Heurnius, a Dutch  missionary of XIIth century, who is thought to have been the first to be interested in collecting and classifying the plants of the Capo di Buona Speranza.


Just like Hoodia, Huernia’s plants also look like cactacee but they are part of a different family: Huernia, in fact, has succulent stems with leaves turned into thorns. It is, in fact, a process of similar adaptation developed by plants that have evolved on different continents. While cactacee are typical of Central America, Huernia and the other Asclepiadaceans come from the African continent.

They are small plants, which can reach 10 or 20 cm maximum. The huernia stem is easily identifiable because it is subdivided into four vertical, very pronounced ribs, along which thorns come out. The flowers are spectacular: they have a five-pointed star shape, with petals joined together to form a unique structure, with different colors from yellow, to red and to violet, often with very lively and pronounced streaks. However, they have an unpleasant smell, which serves them in nature to attract pollinator insects.


Below there is a list of the main Huernia species recognized today.

We remind you that you can find them in our online shop, in the Huernia section.

  • Huernia andreaeana
  • H. barbata
  • H. campanulata
  • H. clavigera
  • H. confusa
  • H. decemdentata
  • H. distincta
  • H. guttata
  • H. hallii
  • H. humilis
  • H. insigniflora
  • H. kennedyana
  • H. kirkii
  • H. levyi
  • H. loeseneriana
  • H. longii
  • H. longituba
  • H. lopanthera
  • H. namaquensis
  • H. nouhuysii
  • H. ocellata
  • H. oculata
  • H. pendula
  • H. penzigii
  • H. piersii
  • H. pillansii
  • H. praestans
  • H. primulina
  • H. procumbens
  • H. quinta
  • H. reticulata
  • H. similis
  • H. simplex
  • H. stapelioides
  • H. tanganyikensis
  • H. thudichumii
  • H. thureti
  • H. ensis
  • H. tubata
  • H. urceolata
  • H. venusta
  • H. volkartii
  • H. whitesloaneana
  • H. witzenbergensis
  • H. zebrina


The Huernia are easy to grow, but they  are not always easy to blossom: the beautiful flowers that characterize them, in fact, come out only if kept in optimum conditions.

These are our cultivation tips:

  • The ideal exposure is in full sun, but by moving the plant to half sun (or repairing it in another way) when the summer arrives.
  • The temperature must always remain above 5 ° C. It is not afraid of high temperatures in summer, while in winter it is good to place it in a sufficiently fresh place and sheltered for a proper vernalization (around 12-15 ° C).
  • Watering from May to September moderately: the soil should have time to dry between the watering.
  • Use a soil rich in nutrients but with a rather large drainage layer on the bottom of the vessel; fertilize once a month in the period from May to September.
  • To repot in spring only when the stem completely cover the surface of the vessel.

The Huernia reproduce by a stem cutting: once cut, the cuttings shall be left to dry for a few days before they can be replant.

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