Very tall and spicy: a succulent in bloom

Why so much work for a few little flowers? Coins are next to the planter for scale.

Something’s blooming in my home: a Haworthiopsis venosa sp. tessellata. The diminutive green plant is named for the British botanist Haworth; venosa means “having branched veins”; tesselatta means “square mosaic tiles” and refers to the pattern on the leaves. In the wild, this small succulent grows in deserts in South Africa, hiding from the blazing sun in rock-sheltered crevices, waiting for occasional rain.

In my home, it’s growing in a little planter with a Rhipsalis crescula or coral cactus, an Echeveria of some species (there are way too many kinds of Echeveria, and they’re all beautiful), and a Crassula swaziensis veriegata or variegated jade plant.

The native habitat of the Haworthiopsis might explain its odd flowers. My little plant has sent up a stem ten time longer than the height of its rosette of leaves, topped by a few small but aromatic white blossoms with brown stripes. Why would it go to all that trouble? It costs a lot to produce both the towering stem and the intense fragrance, which is a little like a mix of cloves and vanilla.

The plant needs to get its flowers noticed by pollinators. It sends its blossoms to rise above the rocks so they are visible. The strong scent travels far, tempting insects that might be distant. The spindly stem guarantees that only the right kind of insect can alight, small ones specializing in delicate flowers. They would be more likely to visit other Haworthiopsis venosa sp. tessellata.

The extravagant blossom shows that my plant is healthy — so I’m providing proper care, which makes me happy.

Here’s more information about this plant, which is easy to grow and usually easy to find for sale:

Haworthiopsis tessellata (Veined Haworthia) • World of Succulents/

Haworthia venosa var. tessellata

All you wanted to know about Haworthias, Gasterias and Astrolobas: Haworthiopsis tessellata

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