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Lithops ruschiorum subsp. nelii (Bushman's Buttocks)


Scientific Name

Lithops ruschiorum subsp. nelii (Schwantes) Schwantes

Accepted Scientific Name

Lithops ruschiorum (Dinter & Schwant.) N.E. Br.

Common Names

Bushman's Buttocks, Hottentot's Buttocks


Lithops nelii, Lithops ruschiorum var. nelii, Lithops ruschiorum 'Nelii'

Scientific Classification

Family: Aizoaceae
Subfamily: Ruschioideae
Tribe: Ruschieae
Genus: Lithops


This succulent is a form of Lithops ruschiorum, found in a few locations near Cape Cross in Namibia.


Lithops ruschiorum subsp. nelii is a small, stemless succulent that grows solitary or forms clumps of usually 5 to 6 bodies. Each body consists of a pair of fleshy leaves separated by a deep fissure. The bodies are up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) tall, up to 1.2 inches (3 cm) wide, and have a heart-shaped side profile. This form distinguishes for the body that is smoother and paler, varying from white, white-grey to greyish-yellow, and for the upper surface, sometimes with few obscure or usually completely absent dots and lines. All the other characteristics are identical to Lithops ruschiorum. Flowers are yellow, with many narrow petals, up to 1.2 inches (3 cm) in diameter, and appear in fall, opening in the afternoon.

The subspecific epithet "nelii" honors Gert Cornelius Nel (1885-1950), botanist, plants collector, and professor of botany at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa.

How to Grow and Care for Lithops ruschiorum subsp. nelii

Light: A sunny windowsill where the plant receives 4 to 5 hours of direct sunlight during the early part of the day and partial shade during the afternoon is the perfect spot to grow your L. ruschiorum subsp. nelii. From spring to fall, you may place the pot on the balcony or in the garden.

Soil: L. ruschiorum subsp. nelii thrives best in a growing medium that will drain quickly. Use a commercial soil mix for succulents or make your own potting mix.

Hardiness: High temperatures are not a problem for this plant as long as there is plenty of fresh air, but it is not a cold-hardy succulent. L. ruschiorum subsp. nelii can withstand temperatures as low as 30 to 50 °F (-1.1 to 10 °C), USDA hardiness zones 10a to 11b.

Watering: Like all Lithops, this succulent has a specific yearly cycle of growth, and it is important to water only during certain stages, but it is also important to keep the soil dry at other stages of its growth. How often you need to water your L. ruschiorum subsp. nelii depends on how quickly the potting mix dries out. It is essential to let the soil dry out between waterings. Stop watering during the winter months to allow the old leaf pair to dry out, and the new pair to develop.

Fertilizing: L. ruschiorum subsp. nelii does not need to be fertilized. It will thrive without any feeding. If you decide to feed, use a fertilizer with high potassium and low nitrogen levels.

Repotting: This small succulent will happily stay in the same pot for several decades. The common reason for repotting is to divide the plant or to allow space for clusters to grow. Repot only when its growing season starts.

Propagation: L. ruschiorum subsp. nelii is most often grown from seeds. If you have a multi-headed plant, it can also be propagated by division. Sow the seeds during the summer.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Lithops.

Toxicity of Lithops ruschiorum subsp. nelii

L. ruschiorum subsp. nelii is non-toxic and safe to have around children and pets.


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