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Plant of the Month

August 2014

Adromischus cooperi

This month's subject is Adromischus cooperi, often considered a beginner's plant – it was for me too, for it was the first Adromischus I acquired (from the RHS Enterprises Plant Centre at Wisley about 25 years ago). In fact, Fig. 1 shows a descendant of that very plant.

Fig. 1 A cooperi

A beginner's plant it may be but, for me, it is still one of the prettiest Adromischus, well worth growing, and the differences in leaf coloration in the various clones now available can be quite striking. It is easy to grow, just make sure you have plenty of grit (about a third) in your compost. With age, it develops quite a tuberous root structure and this can be prone to rot in compacted compost. It is also easy to propagate the plant from leaves – just detach a few leaves, let them dry for a couple of days and then lay them barely below the surface of the compost in a shallow seed tray. Very soon roots will begin to form and the leaf can be gently pushed a little further into the compost. Usually, one or more plantlets will soon form from the rooted end of the leaf. Fig. 2 shows seven little plants grown in just this way from leaves; this clone is an attractively marked one (GM 099) originally found by Gerhard Marx, 25km southwest of Nieu Bethesda, in the Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Fig. 2 A cooperi propagated from leaves

This species is not that common in habitat, being confined to the area of the Eastern Cape from Graaff-Reinet to Queenstown, from Cradock to Grahamstown. Because of its relatively small size, often hiding under the protection of larger shrubs, it is also not that easy to spot. I was fortunate to observe this species at two locations on my visit to South Africa in 2011. These two different clones are shown in Figs 3 and 4.

Fig. 3 A cooperi in habitat 8km E of Jansenville

Fig. 4 A cooperi in habitat 8km SE of Cradock

If I have whetted your appetite for adromischus then I recommend you find out more at Derek Tribble's excellent website Adromischus Displayed.

Tony Roberts

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