Huernia keniensis R.E.Fr.
Huernia keniensis var. globosa
Kenya Dragon Flower, Kenyan Dragon Flower
This species is native to Kenya and Tanzania. It occurs in stony to rocky localities, usually in bright shade, at elevations from 4,920 to 6,560 feet (1,500 to 2,000 m).
Huernia keniensis is a small clump-forming succulent with prostrate to erect, irregularly branching stems with prominent acute tubercles widely spaced and joined into five rows up the stem with a V-shaped groove between these rows. The stems are grey-green with small brownish spots or reddish apex. They are thick, fleshy, up to 5 inches (12.5 cm) long, and up to 0.4 inches (1 cm) in diameter. Leaves are rudimentary or absent. Flowers are bell-shaped or cup-shaped, 5-merous, up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) across, and often with five smaller lobes between the main lobes, usually reddish or purplish outside, and dark purple, densely papillose inside. They appear solitary or in groups of two at the base or middle of the stems in winter and do not have a carrion-like smell. Fruits consist of a pair of follicles with numerous, strongly compressed seeds with a coma (a tuft of silky hair) at the apex.
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 prevents the soil from staying too wet. An underlayment of coarse gravel below the soil mix also improves drainage. A layer of gravel between the plant and the soil mix in climates with damp, cool summers also 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. Huernias grow best between 50 and 80 °F (10 and 27 °C). Protect them from freezing weather.
See more at How to Grow and Care for Huernia.
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