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Huernia hystrix (Porcupine Huernia)


Scientific Name

Huernia hystrix (Hook.f.) N.E.Br.

Common Names

Porcupine Huernia, Toad Plant


Stapelia hystrix, Ceropegia hystrix

Scientific Classification

Family: Apocynaceae
Subfamily: Asclepiadoideae
Tribe: Stapeliae
Genus: Huernia


Huernia hystrix is a variable stem succulent up to 3 inches (7.5 cm) tall. The stems are usually pale green, occasionally glaucous and tinted dull purple, 5-angled, up to 0.5 inches (1.2 cm) thick, with spaced, swollen tubercles along the stem ridges that are tipped with sharp conical teeth pointing outwards. The flowers are bell-shaped, pale yellow to cream, marked with crimson to maroon spots. They are borne in groups of 2 to 5 and grow on long, hairless stalks from the axils of tubercles in lower stem parts.

Huernia hystrix (Porcupine Huernia)

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USDA hardiness zones 10b to 11b: from 35 °F (+1.7 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Huernias require a potting mix with excellent drainage. A succulent plant mix of 50 percent pumice or perlite, 25 percent peat or organic mulch and 25 percent sand helps prevent rotting and overwatering. Roots experience dieback in cool-season dormancy, so plants grow best in shallow containers that allow the soil to dry out quickly. Using clay pots further helps the soil from staying too wet. An underlayment of coarse gravel below the soil mix also improves drainage. In climates with damp cool summers, a layer of gravel between the plant and the soil mix also helps prevent the stems from staying too moist.

Outdoor plantings do well in raised beds. Huernias prefer bright light or partial shade. In nature, they grow underneath shrubs or other plants. Too much sun causes stems to develop protective reddish or purple pigmentation and can actually scald the stems. Too little light leads to weak, thin growth with decreased flower production. These plants grow best between 50 and 80 °F (10 and 27 °C). Protect them from freezing weather.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Huernia.


Huernia hystrix is native to South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, and Limpopo), Swaziland, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.


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