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African Succulents

Greenhouses - House H

Succulent plants of the Old World, mostly from southern Africa, Tropical Africa, Madagascar and from the Canary Islands are on display in this house arranged in geographical groups. Many visitors are surprised to learn none of these plants are cacti. Candelabrifrom species of Euphorbia and large Aloe plants dominate in the middle part of the house, representing plants from eastern and southern Africa. The large fleshy rosettes of Aloe (Liliaceae), leaf succulent shrubs of Crassula, Cotyledon, Tylecodon und Kalanchoe (Crassulaceae), low shrubby "mesembs" (Aizoaceae) and some relatives of the grape vine with thick fleshy stems (genus Cyphostemma) or lianas with succulents stems or leaves (Cissus) show the diversity of leaf and stem succulence. Photo left: Aloe.

The genus Euphorbia is a good example to demonstrate different forms of stem succulence and spine formation. Succulent Asclepiadaceae are represented by Stapelia and Orbea among others with star-like brownish flowers emitting unpleasant odors and attracting flies as pollinators.

Of the peculiar succulent flora of Madagascar, the genus Pachypodium and several Didiereaceae (Alluaudia, Didierea) as well as tall growing Kalanchoe, leaf succulent lianas of the genus Xerosicyos, and arborescent Euphorbias are the most conspicuous plants here. Euphorbia canariensis from the Canary Islands is a plant well-known to tourists. Several species of Aeonium and other succulents from these islands are grown here as well, e.g. the thick-stemmed Senecio kleinia (= Kleinia neriifolia) with narrow deciduous leaves. The genus Senecio is remarkable for leaf succulence as well as stem succulence in most extreme forms. Senecio rowleyanus is a small creeper with globular leaves from Southern Africa. Senecio deflersii from Arabia (shown in a near a display of convergent evolution in succulents in the neighboring House I) is leafless and its stem looks like a cucumber.

Small succulent species from various families can be found in a show-case on the gallery closer below the plexiglass roof, including some well camouflaged Crassulaceae, Aizoaceae and Portulacaceae. Further examples of such plants from the Namib desert are on display in the Welwitschia Annex.

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