Titanopsis (2011)

By Chris Deem (March 2011)

One billion, eight million and 19 years ago, a small asteroid was nudged out of the asteroid belt by the gravitational forces of mighty Jupiter. It went on a long journey. Eighty-six years ago, a fragment of this asteroid burned through Earth’s atmosphere and landed unnoticed in an unremarkable patch of limestone and gravel soil somewhere in southern Namibia.

Today it is hot in Namibia, and here we are, just looking at a spot where a strange little plant is growing. Very like the extraterrestrial rock below it, this plant is an unusual mixture of textures and colors. In a way, this plant has the appearance of something that had been thrown hard against the suface of the Earth.

Its appearance is reminiscent of something shattered, yet intriguingly, it holds together. The granular shapes that cover its rough surface just add to the plant’s otherworldly appearance.

Today it is hot in Namibia, where a small titanopsis grows, 3.25 inches above an ancient meteorite that went on a long journey.

I believe there are just a handful of Titanopsis species known – about five, not counting subspecies. The most commonly seen Titanopsis in cultivation is T. calcareum. All known species are from South Africa or Namibia.

I read that there are species from summer rainfall areas, as well as species that receive their rain in winter, so I will not even try to tell you when to water them. If, however, you don’t kill your plant by watering at the wrong time, both plant and flowers are nice. The flowers are most often yellow, but some are said to be pink or white.