Whitesloanea crassa is native to Somalia where the plant grows in stony and semi-desert areas
Whitesloanea crassa is a very rare and sought after dwarf succulent belonging to the Apocynaceae botanical family. The plant is most famous of the two species of this genus. The stem, resemble a stone, is erect, 4 sharp angled, greyish green to brownish in color and can reach up to 14 cm in height and 5 cm in diameter. The plant is spineless and the roots are fibrous. The plant is similar to a stone in such a way as to hide among the rocks and escape herbivores. Inflorescences are produced in vertical rows along the ribs near the base of stem at ground level. The flowers are small, funnel-shaped, 5-lobed, creamy white to light yellow with many purple dots. The showy flowers are borne by a short and fleshy peduncle. The fruits are 1-2 follicles spindle-shaped.
This is a fast growing plant, easy to cultivate. The plant needs a full light sun exposure but prefers partial shade during the summer. Long exposure to direct sun-light can cause burns and burnt spots. The maximum resistance to cold is 10 °C so it is recommended not to expose the plant to lower temperatures. Too low temperatures can cause the stem or leaves to break due to water freezing inside the tissues. Temperatures between 10 and 15 °C allow the plants to enter vegetative rest which is essential for the flowering of the following year. Plants should not be placed inside the house where average temperatures of 20 degrees prevent vegetative rest. The soil should be a well-draining and porous soil, so you can use a standard cactus soil or a mix of fertile soil and sand. The pumice should always be placed on the bottom of the pot. Remember to use a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly during the vegetative period. Irrigation is proportional to the size of the pot, the position and the season. In Spring and Autumn the plant can be watered with a glass of water every 7-10 days; in summer it can be watered every 3-5 days. Decrease the amount of water if the plant is kept indoors or if the pot is smaller than 12 cm. The plant is used to growing in poor soils, for this reason it does not need abundant fertilization, it is sufficient to fertilize once in spring and once in summer. If the pot starts to be too small for the plant you can repot the plant in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil; it is usually done every 3-4 years. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.
Propagation can be done by seed or grafting. By seed it is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam and keep it with a high level of humidity and at temperature of 14 C°. By grafting you can make the cut as close to the growing tip as possible, then chose a stock with a diameter similar to that of the scion. After the cut, wash away the latex until it no longer remains. Bring the scion closer to the stock and held together with elastic bands. The plants should be left in an airy and shady place for 7-10 days before the bands are removed.
Whitesloanea have an unusual smell, similar to manure. Some have assumed that the center of the flower is actually meant to mimic an anal cavity to attract natural pollinators such as flies.
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