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This species is easily recognized by its row of white dots both above and below just within the margin.
Origin and Habitat: Crassula lactea is found in the southern to eastern Cape Province from near Mosselbaai to East London where it is locally common between Port Elizabeth and East London. South Africa.
Habitat and ecology: It grows in the shade of shrubs or trees associated with rocky outcrops, often in Fish River scrub vegetation.
Crassula lactea Sol.
Hort. Kew. [W. Aiton] 1: 396. 1789
ENGLISH: Tailor's patch, Knysna crassula, White Crassula, Snowy Crassula, White Many-flowering Crassula, Taylor's Parches
CHINESE (中文): 洛東
DANISH (Dansk): Hvid Krassula
FINNISH (Suomi): Valkopaunikko
POLISH ( Polski): Grubosz mleczny
Description: Crassula lactea is one of the prettiest succulents in cultivation that was introduced in cultivation in 1774 by Mr Masson from the Cape of Good Hope. The name refers to the milk-white sweetly scented star-shaped flowers, which, when there is a good mass together are effective. There are many uses for such a succulent as this, and also its nicely variegated variety.
Habit:Crassula lactea is a small perennials shrub, little branched from the base, flexuous, 30-60 cm high. The whole plant is smooth
Stem: Curved, procumbent, scabrous. Branches up to 40 cm long, with old leaves not deciduous.
Leaves: Sessile, crossing each other in pairs, thick, fleshy, leathery, narrow-obovate, to oblanceo-late, narrowed and connate at the base round the stem, (25-)30-50(-70) long, (10-)15-25(-30) mm broad, flat and convex on both sides, glabrous, usually dull green, with a row of white dots both above and below just within the margin. Margin horny entire and often with yellowish.
Inforescences (Cymes): From the point of every well matured shoot, panicled oblong, formed of many cymose opposite branches. Peduncle (20-)40-100 mm long, hairy.
Flowers: White scented with pretty rose coloured anthers. Calyx-lobes 5 very short, fleshy 1,5-3 mm long, lanceolate, pointed, to almost terete at tips, keeled, glabrous, green. Corolla star-shaped, fused at base for 0,5-0,8 mm, white or off-white and sometimes tinged red towards apices. Lobes lanceolate to linear-lanceolate, (4-)5-8 mm long, sharply acute, mucronate, and slightly concave, one-nerved, spreading at about right angles to pedicels when fully open.
Scales 5 scarcely perceptible, obcordate 0,2-0,3 x 0,5-0,7 mm,fleshy, white to pale yellow. Styles subulate Stamens with purple anthers.
Blooming season: Flowers in winter May-July. (December-March in northern hemisphere)
Fruits (capsules): 5-chambered with many seeds
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Crassula lactea group
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Dr J.P. Roux “Flora of South Africa” 2003
2) Sir James Edward Smith “Exotic Botany: Consisting of Coloured Figures, and Scientific Descriptions, of Such New, Beautiful, Or Rare Plants as are Worthy of Cultivation in the Gardens of Britain; with Remarks on Their Qualities, History, and Requisite Modes of Treatment” Volumes 1-2 R. Taylor and Company, 1804
3) John Sims “Curtis's Botanical Magazine, Or, Flower-garden Displayed: In which the Most Ornamental Foreign Plants, Cultivated in the Open Ground, the Green-house, and the Stove, are Accurately Represented in Their Natural Colours ...,” Volume 43 1816
4) John Wilkes “Encyclopaedia Londinensis” Volume 5 1810
5) Crassula lactea Soland. in Ait., Hort. Kew. edn 1, 1: 396 1789
6) George C. Thorburn “Catalogue of kitchen garden, flower, tree and grass seeds, etc” 1843
7) Hermann Jacobsen “Abromeitiella to Euphorbia” Blandford Press, 1960
8) Hermann Jacobsen “A handbook of succulent plants: descriptions, synonyms, and cultural details for succulents other than Cactaceae” Volume 1 Blandford Press, 1960
9) Hermann Jacobsen Sukk. Lex. 144, pi. 46, 1 1970
10) The Garden, Volume 38 1891
11) DC, PI. Hist. Succ. pi. 37 1800
12) DC, Prodr. 3: 383 1828
13) Jacq., Hort. Schoenbr. 4: 15, pi. 430 1804
14) Sm., Ex. Bot. 1: 63, pi. 33 1804
15) Sims in Curtis's bot. Mag., ser. 2,1, pi. 1771 1815
16) Thunb., Fl. Cap. edn Schultes 289 1823
17) Eckl. & Zeyh., Enum. 295 1837
18) Schonl. in Trans. R. Soc. S. Afr. 17: 199 1929
19) Higgins, Crass. Cult. 47, fig. 21 1964
20) Walther Haage “Cacti and succulents: a practical handbook” Dutton, 1963
21) W. H. Harvey “Flora Capensis” Vol 2, page 327 1894
22) Tolken in Contr. Bolus Herb. 8: 209 1977
Crassula lactea Photo by: Giuseppe Distefano
Crassula lactea Photo by: Valentino Vallicelli
Cultivation and Propagation: Crassula lactea is a good beginner plant, fast growing, easy to propagate from cuttings and not prone to pests. It grows under a wide variety of climatic conditions provided it is planted in a well-drained situation given adequate water but not over-watered.
Growth rate: It is a pretty fast grower.
Soil: Plants grow well in a well-drained mineral soil.
Pots: It needs a relatively shallow pot to accommodate its fibrous roots and provide a very good drainage. It may stay in the same pot for many years.
Watering: It needs moderate water – not too wet nor too dry from autumn to spring with regular water in summer (careful watering required in winter), fairly drought tolerant elsewhere.
Fertilization: Light fertilizer seems to boost its growth whenever additional water is given. Feed it during the growing season with a fertilizer specifically formulated for cactus and succulents (high potash fertilizer with a dilute low nitrogen), including all micro nutrients and trace elements diluted to ½ the strength recommended on the label. It thrive in poor soils and needs a limited supplies of fertilizer to avoid the plant developing excess vegetation, which is easily attacked by fungal diseases.
Special need: Provide very good ventilation. Nearly all problems occur as a result of overwatering and poor ventilation, especially when weather conditions are dull and cool or very humid.
Exposure: It cannot take direct sun in summer but generally needs sun part of the day to bloom. In deep shade it gets pretty weak and leggy and eventually rots and dies. As houseplants, give crassulas up to 6 hours a day of sun.
Pest and diseases: It does not suffer from pests, other than the occasional mealybugs. Protect against frost.
Maintenance: After growing for several years tends to become untidy resulting in thick tops and bare stems at the bottom. Without the pinching and trimming these succulent plants form new branches near the top. To encourage shrubbier growth, pinch off a few leafs at the top or restart it from cuttings.
Hardiness: Outdoors in frost free areas, indoors all other zones
Propagation: Seeds/ Stem cuttings. Sow seeds in autumn. Place cuttings in clean river sand, mist every three to four days, roots should appear within 2-3 weeks.
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