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Huernia pillansii (Cocklebur)


Scientific Name

Huernia pillansii N.E. Br.

Common Names

Cocklebur, Cockle Burrs

Scientific Classification

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


Huernia pillansii is a succulent with soft, erect or ascending stems, subglobose when young, becoming narrowly ovate or cylindric with age. It grows up to 6 inches (15 cm) long and up to 0.8 inches (2 cm) in diameter. Leaves are as soft bristles and up to 0.3 inches (8 mm) long. Showy, star-like flowers are up to 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter, outside yellow or reddish-brown, inside cream-colored or yellowish, and stippled with irregular blotches of red or maroon. It flowers freely in late summer and early fall.

Huernia pillansii (Cocklebur)

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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 pillansii is native to South Africa (Cape Province).


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