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Origin and Habitat: Senecio cedrorum comes from South Madagascar, probably from the Toliara region. Prof. W. Barthlott (Bonn) found similar looking plants on the limestone plateau of Tanjona Vohimena at the southern tip of the island. The type locality is unknown. The species was described from a specimen cultivated in the"Les Cedres" private botanical garden in St. Jean Cap Ferrat of southern France (hence the specific name).
- Senecio cedrorum A.Raynal
Description: Senecio cedrorum is a glabrous glaucous evergreen subshrubs to 50-60 cm tall. The leaves may be so flattened laterally as to seem vertical and looking as if turned on edge. The leaves are a glaborous blue, with darker green veins.
Stems: At first 5 to 10 mm in diameter, fleshy and green in colour, turning purplish under the influence of sunlight and becoming somewhat woody over the years.
Leaves: Laterally compressed (vertical in the stem), obovate, pointed at apex and tapering towards the base of the stem, looking somewhat like the pads of a small Opuntia. They are 2.5-4.5 cm long, 5-2.5 cm wide and approximately 3 mm thick, asymmetric, with a whitish layer of wax which may offer protection against too strong sunlight, with 2-3 prominent veins. The leaves fall off at a later age as a result of the lignification process (age).
Inflorescence: Branched and terminal, is approximately 6 mm in diameter and about 10 cm high. Sometimes, the flower stems are provided with very small bracts.
Lowers (capitula): Yellow, 15 mm long, 2-3 mm in diameter esxcluded phyllaries. Phyllaries 5. Ray-florets (female) 0-2.
Related species: S. cedrorum is closely related to Senecio crassissimus but the latter has leave twice as long, capitula shorter and larger (to 6 mm in diameter), with more numerous phyllaries (c.10) and florets (c.5-6).
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Urs Eggli “Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Dicotyledons” Springer Science & Business Media, 2002
2) Werner Rauh “Succulent and xerophytic plants of Madagascar”, Volume 1 Strawberry Press, 1995
3) Tom Glavich , San Gabriel Valley Cactus and Succulent Society “Succulents of the Month January 2002 - Senecio and Othonna”
4) Gordon Rowley “Caudiciform and Pachycaul Succulents: Pachycauls, Bottle-,Barrel-And Elephant-Trees and Their Kin a Collector's Miscellany” Strawberry Press. June 1st 1987
5) Paul Mollers “Senecio'S (3): Senecio cedrorum Raynal 1968” in: Succulenta jaargang 84 (1): 6, 2005
Cultivation and Propagation: Senecio cedrorum is an interesting and unique plant with the unusual colour combination of purple and grey on leaves that appear to be turned on their edge. It is a most rewarding plant that grows in full sun. It may be best combined in a large container with other succulent types.
Soil: It requires a very free draining soil used for cacti and other succulents, mildly acidic to mildly alkaline but is very tolerant of poor soils.
Fertilization: Fertilizer is seldom a necessity for these plants as the soil is rocky and desolate in their natural habitat.
Watering: It needs moderate water during from spring to autumn, keep rather dry in winter or the plants may rot at the base. The plant will tolerate being dried out much more than other types of succulents. The converse is also true, the plant will suffer greatly from over watering.
Exposition: They seem to do well in full sun to part shade such as at the base of open trees, but thrives better in hot sunny positions and will tolerate coastal conditions, but prefers light shade in the summer.
Frost Tolerance: It is cultivated in open air in the tropical and warm Mediterranean climate, with temperatures which it is good to keep over the 5°C, best 10-12°C. It will better resist if sheltered by the winter rains, seen that the humidity and low temperatures render it more sensitive to rottenness, however, watch it carefully as frost will kill the plant.
Wind and salt tolerance: Tolerates wind and second line salt wind.
Maintenance: The flower stems need to be removed to keep a tidy appearance. These species do tend to get sort of leggy, which is particularly a problem if grown as a potted plant, and trimming back is often necessary.
Propagation: It is easy to propagate by cuttings in late spring to summer, just take a cutting of the plant let it dry for 1 or 2 weeks and stuff it in the ground (preferably dry, loose, extremely well draining soil).
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