Trichodiadema densum


No synonyms are recorded for this name.


Trichodiadema densum is native to South Africa, in particular from Cape province, where it grows in fissures among quartzite rocks forming maps that are often covered in beautiful, star-shaped purple flowers. This species is listed in the Appendix 2 of CITES convention. This is an international agreement between governments, whose aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild plants does not threaten the survival of the species. The appendix 2 lists “all species which, although not necessarily now threatened with extinction, may become so unless trade in specimens of such species is subject to strict regulation”. This means that Trichodiadema densum is not actually threatened with extinction.


Trichodiadema densum, though being astonishingly similar to a cactus, it is not. The confusing part of its anatomy lies either in the spine-like white organs growing at the top of the leaves, and the succulent habit of the plant. T. densum is actually a small, mat-forming plant, growing horizontally in all directions and equipped with wiry, 30 centimeters long and no more than 10 centimeters tall. Unlike the leaves, stems are not succulent, but are wiry and woody at their base. Leaves are up to 2 centimeters long and are slightly similar to the tubercles of Mammillarias, especially because of the white, 20 to 25 spine-like organs at their top, star-shaped and sprouting from a central part which is slightly orange-brownish. From Autumn to Spring, more abundantly in late Winter, Trichodiadema densum shows its glowing, abundant blossoming. At the top of its stems, big if compared to the size of the plant (up to 5 centimeters in diameter), equipped with numerous, linear-lanceolate, vivid pink petals and a beautiful bright yellow central spot.


T. densum is not so difficult to grow. Here below are our cultivation tips:

Put this plant in a partially-shaded spot, but in which it can receive some early morning or late afternoon sun. Shelter it from direct sunlight during the hottest hours of the day.
All Trichodiademas are usually heat-loving plants which do not tolerate low temperatures. T. densum, however, if kept completely dry, is deemed to survive at temperatures down to -4ºC. To stay safe, though, we advice to keep it above 6-8°C. If you place it in a pot, you’ll have just to move it indoors when Winter approaches.
Water regularly, namely every 3-4 days in spring and summer, paying attention to let the soil dry up completely before each irrigation to avoid the risk of rot.
Trichodiademas are not very demanding plants regarding the soil type. The most important thing is to choose a well-draining substrate, such as a standard cacti mix enriched with a little peat.
Fertilize once during the vegetative period, using half the doses recommended on the label of a specific fertilizer for succulents.
Repotting is necessary at least once a year, especially in the early years. Choose large pots to host the robust root system. Rememeber that the plant is mat-forming and tends to expand horizontally, so choose wide pots.
To maintain the Trichodiadema’s “natural bonsai” appearance, we recommend pruning carefully each year to keep the branches compact like a tree crown.


The propagation of T. densum can be done either by sowing or by branch cuttings. Cuttings, though, need a great attention due to their extreme sensitivity to rot.


This member of the Aizoaceae family was given this name by Martin Heinrich Gustav Schwantes in 1926. The genus name “Trichodiadema” means “hairy crown” referring to the hair radiating from the leaf tips. Roots of Trichodiadema species have been used in the past for speeding the fermentation of bread, beer, etc. It is presumed they contain either yeast or sugars which increase the rate of fermentation.

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