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  (Larryleachia picta)
(Syn: Trichocaulon meloforme)

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Flowers are sessile, fleshy, cream, green or yellow, uniformly coloured or maculate with reddish or maroon, and glabrous.

Closely related to Larryleachia cactiformis, this species includes the former Trichocaulon meloformis and Trichocaulon engleri .

Description: Larryleachia picta is a small perennial stem succulent , mostly solitary (or slowly clumping).
Stem: Green or light green or blue-green 5-30 cm high, 20-60 mm wide, unbranched or sparsely branched, short-cylindric, and tessellate, with roughly pentangular, flat or depressed tubercles closely set together; latex colorless.
Leaves: Persistent, reduced to scales, in spirals or verticillate, sessile (and sunken), strongly adscending, 0.05-0.1 cm long.
Roots: Fibrouse
Flowers: Appear (usually) close to apex of stems in extra-axillary inflorescences 1 to 3 together on a tubercle apex, each about 6 to 10mm, in diameter, simple, sessile, fleshy, abaxially cream, green or yellow, uniformly colored or maculate with reddish or maroon, adaxially white, cream, green or yellow, maculate, glabrous.
Blooming season: Flowers open synchronously in summer.
Fruit:  Mericarps, usually paired, acute-angled.




The epidermis is usually of a uniform grey-green colour, but purple mottled specimens are also known.

Photo gallery: Alphabetical listing of Cacti and Succulent pictures published in this site.




Family: Asclepiadaceae (Apocynaceae)  (Milkweeds family)

Scientific name:  Larryleachia picta (N.E.Br.) Plowes
Published in: Excelsa, 17: 9 (1996).

Basionym: Trichocaulon pictum N.E.Br.

Origin:  Origin: Southern Africa, from central Botswana into south-western Namibia.

Habitat and biology:  It can be found on the eastern edge of the winter rainfall region at an altitude of  800 - 1600 m. They are highly succulent and adapt to very harsh and bright habitats. Larryleachia is a very fine example of convergent evolution, very easy to mistake for a cactus. However there is very similar development of very similar characteristics in plants evolving in similar conditions, although separated by very great distances or otherwise of impossible contact. Indeed, one species in the genus is called Larryleachia cactiforme.

Common NameApple Milkweed


  • Trichocaulon meloforme Marloth
    Published in: Trans. Roy. Soc. S. Afr 2. 239., 1912
  • Larryleachia meloformis (Marloth) Plowes
  • Lavrania picta (N.E.Br.) Bruyns subsp. picta
  • Leachia meloformis (Marloth) Plowes 1992 (incorrect name)
  • Leachia picta (N.E.Br.) Plowes
  • Leachiella meloformis (Marloth) Plowes
  • Leachiella picta (N.E.Br.) Plowes
  • Trichocaulon engleri Dinter
  • Trichocaulon pictum N.E. Brown 1909
  • Trichocaulon simile auct. - sensu Marloth
  • Hoodia meloformis (Marl.) Halda 1998.a



This plant has a highly specialized pollination biology, that depends upon flies which are deceived, partially trapped and used as collectors of the pollinia which they transport to a cyathium (Flower) on another plant.

Note: The genus Larryleachia was erected by Plowes in honour of Leslie Leach, an English-born electrical engineer, self-taught botanist, and specialist in Asclepiads and Euphorbias. This plant is perhaps best known as one of the smooth-stemmed members of Trichocaulon.  The spiny-stemmed species was combined with Hoodia, leaving the former in need of a new generic home. The new genus Leachia was rendered invalid as it had already been applied to a genus in the Asteraceae. Realizing his error, Plowes chose a new name Leachiella. Despite having checked as to the availability of that name no one realized until after publication that it had been used before for a genus of red algae. In 1997 it was finally designated as Larryleachia picta along with several other smooth-stemmed species of the former Trichocaulon genus, now the preferred designation among botanists today.

Cultivation:  It is a  slow growing  species of relatively easy culture, water normally in the growing season,  but do not overwater (very wet-sensitively, especially in light of its small root system) Water thoroughly only if soil is dry to the touch, let soil dry in between to prevent root rot, keep dry in the winter with ample airflow.
Potting medium:   Since roots are quite shallow, use a cactus mix or add extra perlite or pumice to regular soil potting soil. A gritty, very free-draining compost is suitable, and clay pots help the plants to dry out between watering.Feed with a high potassium fertilizer  in summer. Care must be taken with watering as they tends to become swollen and untidy in growth habit if given too much water and shade. High levels of light are needed to flower and for good development.  Can be sunburned if moved from shade/greenhouse into full sun too quickly. During the spring it may be able to take full sun until the heat arrives at the end of spring. In an area that has hot afternoon sun, it may be able to take full morning sun, but requires afternoon shade or afternoon light shade. If grown correctly, it will reward the grower with generous displays of flowers. It is quite frost resistant if kept dry, hardy as low as -5 C (or less)

Propagation: Seeds or division, wait until the offsets that appear at the base of old clustered specimens are 1/3 the size of the parent and then detach and plant.

Photo of conspecific taxa, varieties, forms and cultivars of
 plants belonging to the Larryleachia cactiforme complex.
(This Taxon has lots of synonyms, with several controversial varieties and subspecies):

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All the information and photos in cactus art files are now available also in the new the Encyclopaedia of Succulents. We hope you find this new site informative and useful.