The species H. macrocarpa is now a complex grouping of plants that has recently been expanded to include amongst others Huernia arabica, Huernia penzigii, Huernia macrocarpa v. schweinfurthii, and Huernia macrocarpa v. cerasina.
Huernia macrocarpa var. arabica
Huernia macrocarpa subsp. concinna
Huernia macrocarpa var. schweinfurthii
Huernia macrocarpa is native to Ethiopia. However, the habitat of the complex macrocarpa, which includes other species such as H. arabica, Huernia penzigii, Huernia macrocarpa v. schweinfurthii, and Huernia macrocarpa v. cerasina, is wider: it includes also Sudan, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. H. macrocarpa thrives in semi-arid habitats on granite rocks and outcrops.
Huernia macrocarpa is a little, succulent plant with erect grey stems growing horizontally on the soil surface in a mapping habit. They are very tiny, reaching a maximum lenght of 9 centimeters, like fingers, and a diameter of around 1,5 centimeters. Like in every Huernia, stems are furrowed with sharp teeth which, in this species, are fleshy, conical, slightly curved, less than one centimeter long and with a base of 3-4 millimeters. Teeth are very dense on the stems, being separate from each other by only 6-7 millimeters wide grooves. The colour of the stems is glaucous-greyish green. In time, stems form creeping clumps that expand rapidly horizontally, filling all of a sudden the whole pot. From July to October, Huernia macrocarpa produces bell-shaped flowers, with petals fused together and a soft white hair. Though they don’t have the leopard-print pattern typical of many other Huernias, they are anyhow characteristic show a beautiful magenta colour and they are star-shaped. It has a brownish to blackish or yellowish interior with purple transverse bands. The interior of the petals is papillose. Like in all Huernias, between one lobe and the other there’s a slightly pronounced point. Inside the flower there’s also an inner corona, with lobes broader at their base and purplish with yellow blurs at their base. Fruits, instead, are peculiar follicles. In botany, a follicle is a kind of dry, unilocular fruit formed from one carpel (which is a modified leaf forming any fruit), containing two or more seeds. In H. macrocarpa, the follicles are cream-coloured, with dark purple blurs. They don’t show up until a year after blooming.
Huernias are very easy to grow, but it’s not so easy to make them bloom: they in fact need to find themselves in ideal conditions to bloom. Here below are our tips:
Huernia macrocarpa enjoys direct sunlight, so put it in a bright spot, as long as it’s sheltered from sun rays during the hottest hours of summer days. In Spring, it is happy with partial shade, and in Winter with plenty of light.
In general, Huernias must stay at temperatures above 5 ° C, however some authors suggest that H. macrocarpa in particular can tolerate short frosts (temperatures at 0ºC) for a little while, if its substrate is maintained completely dry. By the way, to stay safe, Huernia macrocarpa, in particular, is happy with Winter temperatures of around 10ºC, with plenty of direct sunlight and a completely dry substrate. In Autumn, H. macrocarpa can be kept outdoors until the temperature falls below 10ºC.
Watering needs vary during the year: in Spring, when the plant comes out of dormancy, you’ll have to water frequently and abundantly, by soaking the pot in a basin full of water for a few minutes. In Summer, instead, the plant will tolerate heavy rains but also some drought. Watering once a week in summer will be sufficient. Always waite for the soil to dry up completely before each watering.
H. macrocarpa needs a well-draining soil: use a substrate specific for succulents or add some perlite to an universal potting mix.
It enjoys some fertilization in summer: use a product specific for succulent, diluting it to half the doses written on the label
Repot once a year in Spring, when the stem covers completely the available surface of the pot.
In Summer, sort out the stems while the plant is resting. It has in fact two dormancy periods: one due to low temperatures in Winter, and one in the hottest, driest time in Summer.
The easiest way to propagate Huernia macrocarpa and all Huernias in general is the stem cuttings.
Once detached, cuttings must be left to dry for a few days before being replanted. Next, lay down the cuttings in a gritty, substrate. You can also try with sowing, in Spring in a moist substrate made out of sandy peat moss: by the way, cuttings are undoubtely easier to carry out and the odds of success are higher.
The name “Huernia” comes from Justin Heurnius, a Dutch missionary of XIIth century, who is deemed to have been the first to be interested in collecting and classifying the plants of the Capo di Buona Speranza. The species name “macrocarpa”, instead, probably refers to the size of the fruit: “macro”, in fact, means “big”, while “carpa” comes from the greek “karpos”, meaning “fruit”.
The species H. macrocarpa, in addiction, is actually a complex grouping of plants that has recently been expanded to include amongst others Huernia arabica, Huernia penzigii, Huernia macrocarpa v. schweinfurthii, and Huernia macrocarpa v. cerasina.
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