Habitat: Cape Province, South Africa
Cultivation: Rabiea isn’t a demanding plant, like many Aizoaceae. A lover of warm climates, it can also withstand very low temperatures, close to zero.
Curiosity: Discovered and classified for the first time in 1930 by Nicholas Edward Brown, it owes its name to the Reverend W.A. Rabie, a collector at the time.
Rabiea is a small genus of six species, all native to the Cape Province in South Africa. Their natural habitat is the Karoo, a semi-desert ecoregion in South Africa, homeland to an incredible number of succulent species. They love to grow in dry, open places among the rocks on the slopes, or in crevices of the rocks. This kind of habitat is characterized by Summer rainfall.
It is a small succulent with very thick, triangular-shaped leaves that grow in very compact rosettes. Depending on the species they may have peculiarities such as serrated edges or light coloured spots as a pigmentation. Rabieas tend to be groundcovering and form wide mats. They don’t exceed 10-15 centimeters in height and, usually (but it depends on the species) 20-30 centimeters in width.
Rabiea’s stem are particularly short, practically absent especially in young plants, almost completely covered by the leaves. The mat isn’t thus formed by creeping stems, but by an extended root system which form numerous, short stems, which form a rosette each.
Leaves are usually succulent, triangular, and mucronate (mucronate is a botanical term referring to leaves that terminate in an acuminate point). They generally are greyish green in colour, but there may be some red tinges or some white papules, such as in R. albinata.
Flowers are yellow, daisy-like, with a lot of very thin petals. They are medium-sized and showy. Their special feature is that they bloom at the end of winter, often in the afternoon.
The root tends to become tuberous with time. In general, they are deep, thick and fleshy. Young plants have a tap-root, while the tuber or a rhizome develop only as the plant ages.
Some species in the genus Rabiea, in particular Rabiea albinota, are used for their hallucinogenic properties. The plants are dried up, shredded and smoked in addiction with tobacco.
VARIETY AND TYPES
These are the species recognised to date:
- R. albinota
- R. albipuncta
- R. carolinensis
- R. cibdela
- R. comptonii
- R. difformis
- R. jamesii
- R. lesliei
- R. tersa
Check our online in the section “Rabiea” to find them!
TIPS FOR GROWING
Here are our cultivation tips for Rabiea:
- Choose a position in full sun.
- Rabiea is a lover of warm climates, it can also withstand very low temperatures, close to zero. When it’s cold, however, make sure that the soil is very dry.
- Water regularly every 3-4 days in summer, decreasing the frequency of watering during the winter. Since flowering is at the end of winter, however, never stop watering completely.
- Use a mixture of sand and peat or another fairly light soil. It is important, however, that it is very well-draining.
- Like many other Aizoaceae it needs very little fertilizer. Fertilize in spring, once a month, with a specific product for succulent plants using half of the doses recommended on the package.
- Repotting is usually not necessary as these plants remain very small, except in few cases.
The propagation can be carried out by seed or division of the clusters. You can also try leaf cuttings, but they root with difficulty.