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Origin and Habitat: Monanthes muralis is endemic to the islands of El Hierro and La Palma (and perhaps Gomera), in the Canary archipelago, Spain.
Altitude range: 300-800 metres above sea level
Habitat and ecology: This species is fairly common on cliffs and walls.
- Monanthes muralis (Webb ex Bolle) Hook.f.
Monanthes muralis (Webb ex Bolle) Hook.f.
Bot. Mag. 98: t. 5988 1872.
- Monanthes muralis (Webb ex Bolle) Hook.f.
- Monanthes subcrassicaulis (Kuntze) Praeger
Description: Monanthes muralis is a densely branched dwarf perennial succulent shrub 5-10 cm high with tiny dull green, slightly furrowed, oval leaves spotted with red. The flower is whitish-pink circular with a raised centre and surrounded by a number of short points giving the effect of a many- pointed star, the whole carried on a thin pedicel. Stems, leaves, and sepals papillose. In growth form this species is intermediate between the shrubby Monanthes laxiflora, and Monanthes polyphylla.
Derivation of specific name: The specific epithet comes from the Latin 'muralis', 'pertaining or belonging to walls' and refers to the fact that this plant usually grows on walls or on vertical stone cliffs.
Stems: Ascending or decumbent, later often pendulous, tortuous, slender, 2-5 mm in diameter, branched, basally slightly woody, papillose, glandular-hairy.
Leaves: Rosulate, densely crowded, obovate, rounded or somewhat acute, 6–10 mm long, 3–4 mm wide, 2 mm thick, slightly furrowed, dull green, spotted with purple, not furrowed, with some glandular hairs in the lower part, apically conspicuously papillose, especially along the margins, without platelets.
Rosetes: Compact with about 6 -10 leaves in the extremity of the stems, the innermost leaves soon diverging from the axis almost at right angles. Parastichy number 2:3.
Inflorescence: Terminal from the centres of the rosettes, 1-7 flowered, basally branched, the flowers on filiform pedicels. Pedicels 5-15 mm long, glandular-hairy, hairs to 0.7 mm long.
Flowers: Whitish-pink 6- to 7-merous, small and inconspicuous, 3 - 5 mm in diameter. Sepals papillose dorsally, glandular-hairy. Petals narrowly oblong, acuminate, 2.9–4.1 mm long, 0.5–0.7 mm wide, glandular-hairy; hairs to 0.3 mm long along the margins, lamina somewhat fan-shaped, retuse, finely toothed, clawed or basally attenuate. Nectaries distinctly clawed 1.2-1.7 mm long, 1.4-2.1 mm wide.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) T. H. M. Mes, G.-J. Wijer, and H. ‘t Hart, "Phylogenetic relationships in Monanthes (Crassulaceae) based on morphological, chloroplast and nuclear DNA variation", J. evol. biol. IO (1997) 193-216.
2) Flora de Canarias “Monanthes muralis (Webb ex Bolle) Hook. f.” Retrieved 28 February 2016, from <http://www.floradecanarias.com/monanthes_muralis.html>
3) Reto Nyffeler: Monanthes muralis. In: Urs Eggli “Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Crassulaceae: Crassulaceae” Springer Science & Business Media, 2003
4) Urs Eggli, Leonard E. Newton “Etymological Dictionary of Succulent Plant Names.” Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg 2010
5) Ron Ginns “The National Cactus and Succulent Journal: The Official Journal of the National Cactus & Succulent Society”, National Cactus and Succulent Society, 1976
6) “Anales del Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Agrarias: Serie producción vegetal,” The Institute, 1971
7) Ángel Bañares Baudet, Aurelio Acevedo Rodríguez & Ángel Rebolé Beaumont “Monanthes subrosulata, a new species of M. sect. Sedoidea (Crassulaceae) from La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain” Willdenowia, 43(1):25-31. 2013
8) Urs Eggli “Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Crassulaceae: Crassulaceae” Springer Science & Business Media, 2003
Cultivation and Propagation: Monanthes muralis is one of the more common species in cultivation, that takes very little place in the collection and is asking very little attention. The only demand is a very poor substrate, little water and a mid-shade place. The only things that can kill this plant are cold, hot blasting sun and overwatering. The flowers are jewel-like but not often seen, especially when the plant is grown in shade where it seems to do best. Nevertheless, it is appropriate to provide adequate growing conditions in order to obtain compact plant with many flowers.
Growth rate: Slow growing to start but does well under cultivation.
Exposure Suited for bright situations in mid-shade or under filtered sun. They are often grown under the bench in the shade house along with shade-tolerant haworthias, but if kept too dark they may become overly lush and greener and could be prone to rotting due to over watering. Strong but filtered light encourages flowering, but they likely to suffer from sun scorch and often die if over exposed to direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day in summer. Avoid mid day sun in summer!
Soils: Use a an open and free draining mineral compost with little organic matter (peat, humus) that allows therefore roots to breath (as it is rot prone). Outdoors a well-draining rocky or sandy soil is ideal.
Repotting: Repot it every 2 or 3 years in order to evaluate the health of the plant and provide a larger growing space being careful not to damage the sensitive roots.
Watering: It likes a winter's rest and should be kept dry during the winter months. From early spring onwards the plant will begin to grow and watering should be increased gradually until late spring when the plant should be in full growth. Water regularly during the aestival growth cycle so long as the plant pot is allowed to drain and not sit in a tray of water (this plant need plenty of water) But needs to be avoided wetting the bodies of these plants while they are in sunlight. A wet plant in the sun light can cause sun burning which can lead to scares or even fungal infections and death. From late summer watering should be reduced to force the plant to go in to a state of semi dormancy, by autumn you should be back in to the winter watering regime. Keep dry with ample airflow in winter (but for outdoors cultivation it is somewhat resistant to wet conditions, too if grown in very draining substrata). In the rest period no high atmospheric humidity!! Care must be taken with watering as they tends to become swollen and untidy in growth habit if given too much water and shade.
Fertilization: Feed with a high potassium fertilizer in summer during the growing season diluted to one-fourth potency and mix into the watering can for application.
Hardiness: Monanthes are not frost-resistant. Keep dry at 5- 10° C in winter, but can tolerate sporadic light frost if kept on the dry side prior to, and during, cold weather. Pots may be placed outdoors during the summer months, but must be moved indoors during the winter. USDA zones 9-11
Uses: It is an excellent plant for container growing. It always looks good and stays small. It look fine in a cold greenhouse and frame. It do well outdoors in rock gardens and terraces as well. The slowly creeping stems cluster freely to form mats as a small area ground cover. Monanthes also makes an excellent potted windowsill plant.
Pests & diseases: It may be attractive to a variety of insects, but plants in good condition should be nearly pest-free, particularly if they are grown in a mineral potting-mix, with good exposure and ventilation. Nonetheless, watch carefully for any significant decline in health. This may signal a pest problem that should be dealt with quickly in order to prevent scarring, stunting and even death.
- Red spiders: Red spiders may be effectively rubbed up by watering or misting the plants from above.
- Mealy bugs: Mealy bugs occasionally develop aerial into the new growth among the leaves with disfiguring results, but the worst types develop underground on the roots and are invisible except by their effects. Eliminate mealybug infestations by dabbing the critters with cotton swabs dipped in alcohol or by soaking the succulent roots in a systemic insecticide.
- Scales: Scales are rarely a problem.
- Rot: This species is relatively easy and accommodating, seldom suffer of cryptogamic diseases, but is occasionally infected by Helminthosporium, Pythium and Fusarium if kept too moist. Rot it is only a minor problem with Monanthes if the plants are watered and “aired” correctly. If they are not, fungicides won't help all that much.
Propagation: The branching nature of this plant makes it easy to take an abundance of cuttings which root readily. It is also easy to propagate through seed. Seed germinate in 14-21 days at 21°C. Sow in a well drained medium.
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