Huernia saudi-arabica


No synonyms are recorded for this species name.


riginating from scattered regions in the Asir, particularly near Wadi Wej, approximately 25 kilometers southwest of Taif in Saudi Arabia, Huernia saudi-arabica can be considered a central-African succulent. Its type locality can be pinpointed between Abha and Al Suda at the Waterfall beauty spot Country. This resilient plant thrives at altitudes of around 1800 meters above sea level. Its natural habitat is characterized by rocky, barren terrain, where it takes root on steep, grey rock cliffs situated immediately to the right above waterfalls.


Huernia saudi-arabica, also known as the Saudi Arabian Carrion Plant, is a striking succulent characterized by its mottled red and grey-green stems. These stems grow in a clustered fashion and can reach heights of up to 7 cm. The plant’s unique wide-opening bell-shaped flowers are approximately 40 mm in diameter, featuring a deep purplish-red color on the inside with raised whitish-yellow papillae. The center of the flower may sometimes exhibit blackish tones, with possible basal streaks of fine golden lines.

Unlike many related species that emit a distinctive carrion scent to attract carrion flies for pollination, H. saudi-arabica typically lacks this odor. However, it’s worth noting that the scent of Huernias from different mountainous regions can vary, suggesting the presence of multiple species or forms within this complex. The variability within even the same population has led some authors to group them together, making it uncertain whether this complex represents one or several distinct species.

The stems of H. saudi-arabica can be either prostrate-decumbent or erect, characterized by their soft-toothed, tufted nature. They typically measure 3-6 cm in length and about 1 cm in diameter. The stems are five-angled and display a distinctive mottled pattern of red and grey-green. Additionally, triangular-subulate tubercles, up to 8 mm long, are present.

The flowers emerge from the base of younger stems, with pedicels ranging from 8-16 mm in length. The sepals are 8-13 mm long and 1.5 mm wide. The corolla, located inside the flower, exhibits a dark purple color and is campanulate in shape, measuring 4 cm across. It may have a few small whitish spots or fine golden lines at the base. The corolla lobes are slender, triangular, and acuminate, with dimensions of 14 mm in length and 7-10 mm in width at the base. They tend to be strongly recurved. The exterior of the corolla is generally smooth, although it may rarely have fine roughness. The interior is typically glabrous, occasionally featuring fine acute tubercles. The limb and lobes are a dark purple to purplish red, sometimes appearing mottled due to the spreading pale bases of the papillae. The lobes possess a continuous, tuberculate or sometimes papillate-tuberculate, narrow, dark margin and three prominent veins, although sometimes only the midvein is prominent. The tube is relatively broad and slightly excavated below the throat papillae, giving it a somewhat bowl-shaped appearance. It is rounded at the base and is entirely dark purple or may have a few small whitish flecks, or some fine gold lines inside, along with densely papillose features. The papillae are whitish-yellow at the base and dark at the apex, measuring 5 mm in height and 1.5 mm in width, with a more or less columnar and obtuse shape, often compressed. The corona is 5.5-6 mm in length, with the outer corona being black-purple and its lobes measuring 2-2.5 mm, appearing squarish with dentate and finely crenate apices. The inner corona lobes are 4-4.5 mm long, slightly connivent, with the upper half diverging, and they have glabrous, subulate apices. The staminal column is relatively tall, typically 2 mm long, and the pollinia are yellow.


Huernia saudi-arabica, commonly known as the Saudi Arabian Carrion Plant, is a low-maintenance bloomer once it reaches maturity. During the growing season, it benefits from regular watering, particularly in hot weather, which encourages abundant flowering. In contrast, in winter, it’s wise to reduce watering, especially if temperatures drop. It’s crucial to avoid letting the plant remain overly damp in cold conditions. At around 5°C, winter care is straightforward with sufficient light.

Given its shallow roots, it’s advisable to use a well-draining soil mix, such as cactus mix, or amend regular potting soil with extra perlite or pumice. This allows excess water to drain away effectively. Opting for clay pots further aids in preventing overwatering by promoting quicker drying between waterings.

In terms of sun exposure, Huernia saudi-arabica thrives in partial sun or light shade.

When it comes to pests and diseases, Huernias are generally resilient, especially when kept free from pests. However, they can be vulnerable to stem and root mealy bugs, which may lead to fungal issues. If you encounter these problems, promptly isolate healthy parts, let them dry, and then attempt to re-root them in moist compost.

For optimal growth, consider repotting every two years.

In summary, Huernia saudi-arabica is a resilient and fascinating succulent. With proper care and attention to watering, soil, and light conditions, it can thrive and reward you with its unique and captivating blooms.


The easiest way to propagate is through stem cuttings. Allow the cuttings to air-dry for a day before planting. Lay the stems on gritty compost (do not bury them), and roots will develop from the underside. Additionally, propagation from seeds is possible by sowing them in spring in a mixture of moist, sandy peat moss.


This succulent, Huernia saudi-arabica, bears the name of Justin Heurnius (1587–1652), a Dutch missionary celebrated for being one of the earliest gatherers of plants native to the South African Cape. A distinctive feature of the genus Huernia is the typical carrion-scented smell of the flowers, which has the function to attract certain types of pollinators such as flies and other carrion-eating insect species. In Huernia saudi-arabica, though, this smell is barely perceptible: this might be the reason why this plant is so appreciated by succulent lovers.

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