Tylecodon (2008)

PhotoBy Eric Driskill (January 2008)

Tylecodons are members of the Crassulaceae family. The genus Tylecodon, of which there are over 40 species, contains mostly geophytes and other caudiciform species. They range from 1 inch to over 6 feet tall. The distribution area for the various Tylecodon species is southern Namibia through Namaqualand and dry regions of the Western Cape, South Africa. The plants are found on rocky slopes.

Tylecodon, an anagram of the original genus Cotyledon, is a genus described in Bothalia 12 (1978) by the taxonomist Tolken. Tylecodons are distinguished from cotyledons by their deciduous succulent leaves in a sprial arrangement produced during the winter. Unlike both Adromischus and Cotyledon, their peduncles make a gradual transition from leaves to bracts.

Tylecodon stems are smooth and papery or covered in tubercles. The leaves are smooth to pubescent, linear to round in shape and light green to dark green in color, often tinged red. The red to pink or brownish-green flowers appear on an inflorescence. Flowers are tubular and bell-shaped, and produced after the leaves are shed in the spring or summer.

For pachycal/caudex fans, there is a lot to choose from in this genus. You can really add some interesting plants to your collection with just a few plants. Several Tylecodon species look like something one would expect to see while scuba diving as much as traversing through the Cape Province.

T. wallichii look likes an excellent bonsai subject or an anemone found on a thriving coral reef. T. sinus-alexandri has very attractive leaves and won’t take up much room in your collection. T. buchholzianus is another attractive species.

Most tylecodons are poisonous and care should be used when handling them. Many South African farmers routinely remove every tylecodon they can find, because they are toxic to livestock and cause a significant number of poisonings yearly.