The genus Tavaresia includes at least 2 species (Tavaresia barklyi, Tavaresia angolensis) of spiny stem succulents native to southern Africa. Short, erect, 6-14 angled stems carry rows of tubercles furnished with 3 fine white spines which gives the plants a cactoid appearance. Technically, these spines represent a modified leaf spine with 2 side stipules, unique to this genus. Stems take on a dramatic dark coloration in a sunny position, contrasting with the spines. The large funnel-shaped flowers make these plants attractive to collectors. Swellings near the tips of the coronal lobes are also unique to this genus.
Light: Tavaresias prefer light shade rather than full sun, although stems may not color up under shady conditions.
Water: They should at all times sparingly watered (best rain water with some occasional fertilizer), and in winter time they hardly require any.
Temperature: A minimum winter temperature of 41°F (5°C) is acceptable, providing that plants are kept absolutely dry.
Soil: They grow well in light gritty soil with a very liberal drainage.
Tavaresias are mainly grown by plant collectors, lovers of succulents and enthusiasts who enjoy growing unorthodox looking plants. They comes from summer rainfall areas, and are intolerant of excess water, humidity and low winter temperatures and easily destroyed by molds. Flower buds drop off easily in response to the slightest touch or unfavorable conditions.
Plants are usually increased by cuttings, which, as they are very succulent, should be allowed to dry a week after they are taken off, when they may at once be put singly into pots. Grafting the Tavaresia on Stapelias is often useful, and can be recommended.
Pest and Problems
Keep their roots free of mealy bugs, as fungal attack often occurs as a result of damage to stems by insects. A layer of grit on the surface of the compost prevents moisture from accumulating around the base of the stems and minimize the chance of fungal attack on the roots.
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