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Adromischus   Lemaire (1852)
Greek: hadros = thick + mischos = stalk

Adromischus is a genus of at least 28 species of small clumping leaf succulents from South Africa. Prior to revision of the genus by Tölken a larger number of species were recognised. Many of these older names are currently regarded as synonymous with a range of forms combined into a smaller number of somewhat variable species. A. marianiae is particularly variable across its range, reflecting combination of plants with markedly different appearance into a single species. Some natural hybrids are known.
 
The attractively marked and coloured leaves of many species appeal to collectors but require high light levels for the different colours to be seen to full advantage. In shade most species adopt a similar green colour. As the plants age, some elongate losing leaves lower down their thickened stems. Opinions vary as to the merits of mature plants compared with smaller ones.
 
Adromischus flowers are generally small, with a greenish-white tube and pink or reddish corolla and produce sufficient nectar to start a fungal infection, especially towards the end of the growing season. As the flowers are not showy, many growers cut off the developing flower stems to avoid botrytis. The only species worth growing for its flowers is A. phillipsiae, which has relatively large showy orange tubular flowers, reminiscent of flowers of Cotyledons to which Adromischus is closely related and with which it was once grouped.
 
Cultivation: Many species are easy to grow in any free-draining gritty compost. Their compact habit allows a collection to be maintained in a small space and they grow well on any sunny window ledge or the top shelf of the greenhouse. Adromischus tolerate cool, frost-free conditions during the winter if kept dry. It is as well to keep water off the foliage during the winter. Mealy bugs and vine weevils can be discouraged with a systemic insecticide.
 
Many species can be propagated from a single leaf, which should be placed against the side of the pot so that the stem end is just touching the compost. Some species drop their leaves easily and although each leaf will form a new plant it can be a challenge to grow a large specimen. In other cases, leaves for propagation must be carefully detached with a sharp knife. A. phillipsiae is easier to propagate from stem cuttings than from individual leaves.

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Adromischus cooperi

Adromischus cooperi  A. Berger 1930 (Knuppelplakkie, Plover Eggs)
Syn. A. festivus  Gibbs Russell 1987
Named for: Thomas Cooper (1815 - 1913) English botanist who collected plants in South Africa.

This compact plant has very fleshy dark-green leaves with undulate tips and purple spots on their surface. Plants bloom in mid-Summer with racemes of small tubular red flowers. With time the plant becomes shrubby.

Native to mountains in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. A very widely cultivated tolerant plant, slow growing, but every leaf roots easily to make a new plant.

Adromischus poelnitzionus

Adromischus cristatus  Lemair 1852  Crinkle Leaf Plant
Syn. Adromischus poellnitzianus  Werdermann 1936

This species includes plants from several formerly-separate species and hence is somewhat variable in appearance. The stems produce tufts of reddish-brown aerial roots and the ends of the green leaves are characteristically crinkled and become reddish-purple in full sun.
 
Native to the Eastern Cape of South Africa.

Adromischus nussbaumerianusAdromischus nussbaumerianus

Adromischus cristatus var. clavifolius  (Haw.) Tölken 1978
Syn. Adromischus nussbaumerianus  von Poellnitz 1936

Photographed at RBG Kew

Adromischus filicaulis ssp marlothii

Adromischus filicaulis ssp marlothii  Tölken 1978
Syn. Adromischus tricolor CA Smith 1939
 
A dwarf creeping plant with lancolate green leaves arranged along prostrate reddish-brown stems from which they are easily detached giving a sparse distribution of leaves on old stems. The leaves may be sparingly spotted and can become reddened in full sun and with immature foliage. The stems produce numerous aerial roots along their length, rooting down into the substrate where they touch. Native to the area around the Little Karoo.

Adromischus hemispaericus Adromischus hemispaericus

Adromischus hemispaericus  Lemaire 1852
This is the type species for the genus and widely distributed in the Western Cape. The grey, branching stem has peeling bark. The ovate greyish leaves may have reddish-purple spots and a flaking waxy surface. The leaves are easily shed but each leaf will make a new plant.

Adromischus marianiae  Berger 1930
This variable species is distributed over a considerable area of South Africa from the Western Cape to Namibia and includes several superficially dissimilar subspecies and varieties formerly regarded as separate species. Many varieties have attractively spotted or marked leaves. Some forms with warty or ridged leaves are considered especially desirable by collectors. The many forms of Adromischus marianiae could be the basis for a collection in their own right, yet would occupy a relatively small space as the plants are quite compact.

Adromischus marianiae 'antidorcatum' Adromischus marianiae 'antidorcatum'

Adromischus marianiae 'herrei'

Adromischus marianiae var. immaculatus  Uitewaal 1953
Syn: Adromischus marianiae antidorcatum  von Poellnitz 1938
 
With age, this variety develops a pachycaul stem supporting tufts of lanceolate leaves blotched with purple. In full sun the leaves become reddened. Aerial roots are produced along the stems. Opinions differ as to the relative merits of mature vs. young plants, but personally I like the pachycaul appearance of old plants.

Adromischus marianiae var. immaculatus  Uitewaal 1953
Syn: Adromischus marianiae 'herrei' von Poellnitz 1938
 
This densely-branching plant has thickened roots and lanceolate to oblanceolate bronzed leaves with grooved, spotted or warty leaves. Individual leaves break off, root and grow freely so one tends to end up with a collection of small plants instead of a large specimen. Collectors' forms include variants with different degrees of wartiness and all-green leaves. Native to a limited area of the Western Cape around Maerpoort.

Adromischus maximus

Adromischus maximus  Hutchison 1959
is a large-leaved species from the North-Western Cape area of South Africa. The uniformly olive-green leaves are not marked or spotted. My own plant grows very slowly. Propagation is from leaves or small cuttings.
Photographed at RBG Kew

Adromischus phillipsiae

Adromischus phillipsiae  von Poellnitz 1940
Syn. Cotyledon phillipsiae Marloth 1907
Named for: Lady Louise Jane Lort-Phillips (fl.1896) botanist & member of Edith Cole expedition to British Somaliland.

The small eliptical green leaves are slightly inrolled. Some forms have red mottling on the leaf surface. The inflorescence is a cluster of pendulous, large orange tubular flowers at the end of a long stem. They are bird pollinated.

Native to the Roggeveld Mountains of South Africa. This is the only Adromischus worth growing for its flowers. Can be propagated from stem cuttings but not leaf cuttings.

Adromischus  triflorus Adromischus  triflorus

Adromischus triflorus  Berger 1930
A small plant forming clumps of obovate grey-green leaves densely arranged on short stems. The upper portions of the leaves have horny margins, sometimes crisped ends and purple spots to a variable extent. Native to the area around the Little Karoo.

Adromischus  trigynus

Adromischus trigynus  von Poellnitz 1938
The roots are tuberous and support short stems. The purple-spotted leaves vary considerably in shape but have a characteristic thin horny margin.
 
A widely spread, variable plant native to the North-Eastern Cape, Free State and Great Karoo of South Africa.

 

Literature

Adromischus by John Pilbeam, Chris Rodgerson and D. Tribble (1998)
Publisher: Cirio Publishing Services Ltd., Southampton. United Kingdom. ISBN: 0-9520382-3-X
 

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The Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Crassulaceae by Urs Eggli (Editor)
ISBN-13: 9783540419655
 
The Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants in 6 volumes represents the first comprehensive taxonomic treatment of succulents in thirty years. It covers over 9000 taxa of all succulents except Cactaceae with chapters on individual plant families written by experts. The Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Crassulaceae includes a chapter on the genus Adromischus.