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CEPHALOPHYLLUM 'Red Spike'

Image of Cephalophyllum 'Red Spike'

Family

Aizoaceae

Botanical Name

CEPHALOPHYLLUM 'Red Spike'

Plant Common Name

Ice Plant, Red Spike Ice Plant

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

This little-known genus of succulent perennials contains 60 species of what is commonly called iceplant. It is a coastal species found along the southern tip of Africa both east and west of the Cape of Good Hope. The plants are ground hugging dense mats of thick leaves that dwell in the sandy dune lands and rocky outcrops found in the maritime climate areas.

Cephalophyllum species are creeping plants that produce thick blue green leaves with a curiously half rounded tips. Leaves rise of thick leathery stems that creep, rooting as they go, making this an easy to propagate group. Among South Africans, this is considered the most spectacular of all iceplants, due to the intensity of petal colors and that of the multitude of stamens within these daisy-like flowers. Among the many species are flowers in yellow, red, purple and white, each followed by small green fruits.

Only two species are grown, but rarely outside South Africa. Plants tend to perform poorly except in southern California where day length and light intensity mirror that of their homeland. These succulents are not widely successful in greenhouses. The primary species in cultivation and considered the most beautiful is Cephalophyllum alstonii bears ruby red petals and violet stamens. More unique but highly valued is Cephalophyllum spongiosum, a shrubbier form that bears vivid red blossoms.

In the wild these plants are found in coastal conditions which indicate a tolerance for alkaline soils, salt air and low fertility. Like all succulents they will be liable to rot if provided too much water, and cannot tolerate dry inland heat. This has limited their cultivation to a very small are of western interest where coastal conditions are largely rainless during the long dry season.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 10

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    12 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Cactus or Succulent

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Bloom Time

    Spring

  • Native To

    South Africa

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought, Salt

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Habit

    Mat-forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Red

  • Fruit Color

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Blue Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Blue Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Blue Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Blue Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Groundcover, Rock Garden / Wall

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Hummingbirds

  • Self-Sowing

    No