| Description: Lithops julii is a stemless small to medium sized cone-shaped pair of leaves that are separated by a 5-10 mm deep fissure with (usually) conjunct lobes. It is usually whitish-grey to dark grey but very variable in colour, some specimens being opaque whitish-grey and almost uniform in colour, others opaque but strongly reticulated with fine impressed brown markings, yet others with largely open obscurely transluscent windows. The profile is truncate, the tops are flat to slightly convex. Face slightly reniform.
Flowers: It produces a single white daisy-like flower emerges from the fissure and is as large as the pair of fleshy leaves below.
Blooming season: From mid-summer through fall
Fruit: Seed capsules-loculetd.
Seeds: Yellow-brown to light yellow-brown
Lithops julii comprises several more or less intergrading and distinct subspecies and variety:
subsp. julii (Dint.&Schwant.) N.E. Br. 1925 - Cole numbers: C063, C064, C183, C297, C349 (chrysocephala) C205; (littlewoodii) C218.
The more distinctive feature of this plant is a brown 'lip-smear' along the inner margins. The lip-smear occurs occasionally as a narrow edging or lining all along the outer margins. The windows are more or less occluded with irregular broad and distinct channels, often obscure or reduced to a network of narrow, grooves. The channels have often a very variable network of rubrications and lines. Islands are large more or less distinct against the background of opaque channels. Shoulders, margins and islands are whitish grey, sometimes tinged with blue, mauve or pink. Windows and channels are grey-white with some blue, mauve, pink, beige or brown or slightly translucent greenish grey, greenish or yellowish brown. Margins rather obscure irregularly dentate or sinuate, with a number of peninsulas.
Three main forms have been proposed and were even given varietal status (“pallid”, “reticulated” and “fuscous”) but wild populations tend to have at least two and many have all three of this forms variously intermingled . Distribution: Namibia
subsp. fulleri (N.E. Br) B. Fearn 1927 - Cole numbers: C024, C056, C062, C121, C122, C161, C162A, C171, C203, C230B, C259, C319, C323, C378
This is an extremely variable subspecies in colour, pattern and rubrication. Face somewhat unequal, margins distinct irregularly dentate, sometimes sinuate with quite large peninsulas; both inner and outer margins usually edged with a brown lining. Windows distinct occasionally reduced to a network of narrow grooves. Channels slightly impressed. Islands regular in shape more or less large; usually distinct. Rubrications appear in the marginal indentations, as a series of marks. Shoulders, margins and islands light grey, often tinged with pink, yellow, blue or green, or beige. Windows and channels milky blue, pale pinkish, greenish or yellowish grey, or mauve, pink or rust-brown; often with a brown or dark greenish-brown smear thinly lining both inner and outer margins.
subsp. fulleri var. brunnea H.W. de Boer 1962 - Cole number: C179
Very similar to var. fulleri, but browner in colour. Colours: Shoulders, margins and islands pale creamy, pinkish or bluish grey, or beige. Windows and channels greyish, reddish or greenish brown, or grey. Rubrications red.
subsp. fulleri var. rouxii (H.W. de Boer) D.T. Cole 1964 - Cole numbers: C215, C216, C217, C324
Strictly related to var. fulleri, but marked with stitch-like marginal rubrications. Margins with irregular indentations,and a distinctive series of dark rubrications which resemble stitches.
subsp. julii cv. 'Peppermint Crème' 1999 Cole number: C297A
Very distictive blue-green form derived from only one specimen collected by Leslie Pretorius in 1983 in Namibia. Margins and islands very pale milky bluish green and shoulders a little lighter than the margins. Lip-smears pale brownish green. Channels opaque pale milky bluish grey.
subsp. fulleri var. fulleri cv. 'Fullergreen' 1988 Cole number: C056A.
Shoulders, margins and islands light creamy greenish grey, margins edged with a light brownish-green, especially in the indentations. Windows and channels opaque greyish blue-green. Rubrications obscure dark red-brown.
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: L. hookeri is a summer growing species with dry rest period over winter. Easy to grow it tolerates a degree more excess water than some particular hydrophobic species, even so it must have a very open mineral, fast draining mix with little compost and a high degree of grit, coarse sand, small lava gravel or pebbles. Give them the maximum amount of light you are able to give them, but care should be taken about exposing them to the full blast of the sun rays in summer. Such tiny plants can easily get scorched or broiled and their appearance spoiled (this may not matter in the wild, where the Lithops have probably shrunk into the ground and becomes covered with sands).
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 all problems occur as a result of overwatering and poor ventilation especially when weather conditions are dull and cool or very humid. If too much water is supplied the plants will grow out of character, bloat, split and rot. Keep them in small pots as solitary clumps or as colonies in large, shallow terracotta seed pans.
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".