Carruanthus (2014)

PhotoBy Eric Driskill (March 2014)

The genus Carruanthus is in the Aizoaceae family and has only two recognized species, C. peersi and C. ringens. The etymology of Carruanthus comes from carru (karoo) and anthos or flower. The two species are found in the eastern and western cape provinces in South Africa.

The plants are compact, only reaching 4 inches tall. Leaves are triangular in cross section with a keel beneath and the upper flat leaf surface concave. Both species have four to six teeth along the margins, but C. ringens is characterized by more heavily toothed leaves. Both species produce bright-yellow flowers.

In habitat, the plants grow on rocky slopes (C. ringens, full sun) or in shady crevices (C. peersi, prefers some shade). Both species prefer a porous potting mix and prove to be opportunistic growers. Carruanthus plants are easily propagated by cuttings or seed.

The two plants in the genus Carruanthus look very much like those in the genus Faucaria in the Ruschioideae family. Carruanthus resemble Faucaria species in form, leaf shape, toothed leaves and yellow flowers. Although these two genera have much in common, Carruanthus is distinguishable by its stalked fruit.

These are really bizarre plants and sure to be a conversation piece. Many nurseries offer one or both species fairly inexpensively. Consider adding one to your collection and rest assured that you won’t have to scramble to provide much bench space for such an interesting plant.