Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Pachyderm beauty: a gem of the karoo

Aloinopsis spathulata picture taken September 30, 2007
The genus Delosperma is well known in gardens nowadays, but dozens of of other genera of Mesembryanthemaceae are found in areas that experience severe cold. Aloinopsis spanthulata was the first of these to be grown in Denver: Paul Heiple was an enthusiastic member of the Cactus club in the early 1980's who was the first to over-winter this beautiful plant outside in a Denver garden. We have subsequently grown it in a variety of sites and conditions: this can form an enormous caudex and live a very long time in our semi-arid climate, although Denver is probably much colder than its native home on the high Roggeveld Plateau where the previous and next two pictures were taken in September of 2007.

We had been driving for many hours across the high Plateau from Calvinia to Sutherland. We found this msemb in only one spot about 10 km north and west of Sutherland. Notice the clay soil it's growing in in nature. Although this was high spring, there was not a lot of bloom anywhere on the plateau. But the Aloinopsis blazed and could be seen by the passing bus! Which is how we found it!

Here it can be see caked with mud

Picture taken April 20, 2016

And here it was last spring at the fabulous crevice garden at the APEX recreation center in Arvada.

An old picture scanned--from my old garden...

The one above and below are at Denver Botanic Gardens

And here are a medley of hybrids that we grew from Bill Adams of Sunscapes Nursery: bill began the trend of hybridizing various mesembs to produce astonishing range of colors: a number of other hybridizers have begun crossing plants in the Aloinopsis, Nananthus and Rabiea group, producing some truly spectacular color ranges--but that's really another story. But a story that began with Aloinopsis spathulata, a wonderful pachydermous little gem of the karoo!

Various hybrids of Aloinopsis spathulata and Nananthus spp. at Denver Botanic Gardens South African Plaza.


  1. It is on my bucket list to try to grow this someday. Although, I am sure it will be difficult to maintain through the cold wet winters where I live.


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