Friday, August 3, 2012
The Silver Spider- Senecio scaposus
Senecio scaposus originated in (I'll give you 2 guesses but you'll only need one!) South Africa and lives in some of the driest spots down there. It's become very popular here because it can handle our hot, beachy climate without too many problems.
The Silver Spider handles the strong sun by growing a papery covering over its young leaves. As the leaves age, the covering starts to peel, revealing some green and allowing more photosynthesis to occur. The silver "paper" reflects the sunlight so the plant neither burns nor gets too hot, kind of like how many desert dwellers wear white, thin cotton or linen clothing. Here's a closeup so it's easier to see the "paper":
They seem to like about as much water as cacti, a good drenching once a week, and sandy cactus soil and cactus fertilizer is fine. This one is stemless, and there are several other varieties of scaposus, one without paper but with lovely lime green freckles, and one that appears more stemmy. This one is S. scaposus scaposus, and I like it very much.