Reddish brown heads, red lines.
Family: Mesebrianthemaceae (Aizoaceae)
Scientific name: Lithops fulviceps (N. E. Brown) N. E. Brown 1914 (1922)
Habitat: Its natural habitats are rocky areas and cold desert. The stones comprises quartzite, gneiss, quartzite and schist, calcrete and quartzite.
The colour of the background varies from light to dark brown or reddish brown with some white and grey-white, or grey-white with some dark brown.
Common English Names include: Stone plant, Living stone.
Etymology: The species name comes from the Latin adjective “fulvus” meaning “yellow-brown, tawny” plus the Latin word “ceps (capit)” meaning “head” for the colour of the plant.
- Lithops lydiae H. Jacobsen 1960 Nomen invalidum
- Lithops ortendahlii Dinter 1928 Nomen nudum
Lithops fulviceps C17
L. fulviceps C170
L. fulviceps C170
Description: L. fulviceps is generally smaller than most Lithops but its shape follows the same pattern of a cordate (heart-shaped), bifurcate body of two leaves, cleft nearly to the base and showing a pattern of channels, islands and windows on the top face. This species usually do not shows clearly evident margins, windows, channels and islands, but the top of the leaves are scattered by numerous dots ( dusky dots) and are more or less reticulated by slightly impressed grooves that sometime form a conspicuous network. The patterns of colour and dots on the face is more or less regular within certain ranges of similarity. For this species, the dusky dots are very specific ranging in colour from dark grey through browns to purple.
Flowers: Yellow, medium sized up to 35 mm wide but usually less.
Fruit: 5 loculed capsules.
Seeds: Yellowish brown to brown; smooth to rugose.
Lithops fulviceps comprises several more or less intergrading and distinct variety:
var. fulviceps (N.E. Brown) N.E. Brown 1914.Cole numbers: C170, C220, C221, C266, C278, C284, C390, C391; (*lydiae) C219
It is a medium sized elliptical plant about 30 X 23 to 40 X 27 mm wide, It branches easily and forms clumps with up to 10 (or more) heads, but usually less. It is somewhat variable in colour, usually uniform rusty yellow-brown to orange-red-brown, but also grey-brown, grey with greenish or pinkish or purplish tinges, but otherwise very uniform. Dusky dots are dark grey-green to blue-green. Shoulders often as for the face but duller.
var. lactinea D.T. Cole 1973. (Syn: Lithops. geoffreyi, Lithops verruculosa) Cole number: C222. It is endemic to a very small area where it is found growing on a gentle limestone slope. This plant except for the face colour is the same as the type. Face is opaque, milky bluish or greenish or pinkish grey-white or grey with dusky dots mainly bluish green. Shoulders milky grey-white, or bluish grey-white. Rubrications yellowish or reddish orange, sometimes barely visible. It is a medium medium to large plant up to 40 X 30 mm wide. Usually few branched with up to 4 heads (or more in cultivation).
var. laevigata D.T. Cole (2006) Cole number: C412 This variety is quite uniform and distinguishable for it more smooth surface, as if polished. It has small subcutaneous dots, not the large raised dusky dots which characterize the type variety. The plants are also distinctly smaller in all dimensions, with rarely visible rubrications. The face and shoulders colour is always rusty brown, sometime with few distinguishable islands. The channels (if present) are dark olive-green and obscurely transluscent.
Lithops fulviceps cv' Aurea' (Originally published as L. fulviceps f. aurea by Y. Shimada in 1977). Cole number: C363. The plant originates in cultivation either in USA and in Japan, it is yellowish-green to or creamy-blue green in colour with white flower, but is otherwise the same as var. fulviceps. The usky dots are raised, dark dull greyish or bluish green. Rubrications (if present) is very fine pale brownish-orange.
Remarks: Lithops are partly subterranean, with only the clear 'window' in each leaf tip exposed above soil. A type of optical system exists whereby a layer of apical tissue rich in calcium oxalate crystals acts as a filter to intense sunlight before it reaches the thin chlorophyllous layer below. They are also called mimicry plants as they show a striking similarity to their background rocks and are difficult to detect when not in flower. These are the commonly known as pebble plants or living stones; each species is associated with one particular type of rock formation and occurs nowhere else. Its soil-embedded, subterranean growth form also reduces the need for chemical defences against herbivores.
Cultivation: Need an open mineral, fast draining mix and the maximum amount of light you are able to give them. The basic cultivation routine is: Stop watering after flowering. Start watering after the old leaves completely dry. (Usually late March or Early April) Water freely during the growing season, soak the compost fully but allow it to dry out between waterings, no water when cold. Some growers fertilize frequently, some hardly ever. Keep them dry during the winter. Nearly allproblems occur as a result of overwatering and poor ventilation especially when weather conditions are dull and cool or very humid. This plant is best for a well lit area (Bright shade to full sun). But don't be afraid even the best growers have plants that mysteriously dry up, or leave during the night.
Note: After flowering in the autumn and extending through winter season the plant doesn’t need watering, but they will still be growing, the new bodies will be increasing in size extracting water from the outer succulent leaves, allowing them to shrivel away. In fact the plant in this time extracts water and nutrient stored in the outer succulent leaves, allowing them to dehydrate relocating the water to the rest of the plant and to the new leaves that form during this period until the old leaves are reduced to nothing more than "thin papery shells".