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CRYPTANTHUS zonatus

Image of Cryptanthus zonatus

Gerald L. Klingaman

Family

Bromeliaceae

Botanical Name

CRYPTANTHUS zonatus

Plant Common Name

Zebra Plant, Zebra Star

General Description

The zigzag white stripes across zebra earth star's leaves add visual interest to shaded tropical gardens. This terrestrial (soil growing) bromeliad produces starry rosettes of leaves that hug the ground. The species is Brazilian in origin but wild populations are believed to be extinct. In fact wild Cryptanthus zonatus plants were last recorded in 1972 in Dois Irmãos State Park, Pernambuco, Brazil.

Each rosette produces eight to fifteen flattened, tapered, strap-like leaves with tiny teethed along the edges. They are olive green with bright grayish white and brown strips and scaly, white undersides. In the warm summer months, small white flowers appear from the center of mature rosettes. After flowering and setting fruit, the rosette will die but not before it is replaced by small plantlets, called pups, that form at the base of the mother plant.

Grow the zebra earth star in a well-drained, moist soil that is sandy but rich in organic matter. Partial shade is best for best growth, though some sun can be tolerated in mornings and evenings. Too much shade diminishes the colorful foliar banding.

Mass zebra earth star as a tropical groundcover or plant beneath tropical ferns and begonias in a colorful border. It makes a nice houseplant, and pup plants can be easily propagated and used to renew a colony.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 9

  • Plant Type

    Tender Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Shade

  • Height

    3"-5" / 7.6cm - 12.7cm

  • Width

    12"-16" / 30.5cm - 40.6cm

  • Native To

    Brazil

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Rosette/Stemless

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Edging, Groundcover, Houseplant, Mixed Border, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No