Friday, August 3, 2012

The Silver Spider- Senecio scaposus

There are a whole lot of Senecios out there (around 1,500), and most of them aren't even succulents! But this one, known here as "The Silver Spider" (or "Silver Coral", which is less dramatic) is my favorite.

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.


  1. Wow, what a cool looking plant, love the leaves and the thin paper white sheath, and aptly named too. Lovely acquisition. :-)

  2. Thank you! I'd love to corner a botanist at a party someday and find out how the plant makes that lovely paper....

  3. Excellent, I just looked at it in zoom, and it looks incredible, it almost looks like silverleaf.. quite extraordinary. What a wonderful plant!

  4. Isn't it amazing?? I can't think of another plant that resembles this one.

  5. Marla, great looking plants, you will like a few others too, I will see if I can post them, tomorrow - if it is not raining! Again, Senecio, like crassula, once you look a bit closer becomes a great genus. They really shine in their otherworldliness (spelling?) against other crassulaceae. LT

  6. Can't wait to see them! Senecio and Crassula are 2 groups of plants well worthy of growing.

    1. Post for you! See senecio diversity post.

  7. Wonderful post! I left a comment.