Lithops N.E.Br.

Living Stones

Greek lithos—stone, opsis—appearance.

Perennial succulent plants. Body consisting of 2 leaves fused at the base, the tip generally more or less flattened and patterneed, sometimes with a translucent 'window'. Flowers mostly solitary (rarely 2-3), emerging from the crack between the leaves. Sepals 5-6, free. Petals numerous in 1-4 rows, white, yellow to orange-yellow. Stamens numerous, free and forming a column. Ovary inferior with 4-7 chambers; ovule placentation parietal.

A remarkable genus whose bodies are camouflaged when in their natural habitat through their resemblance to the stones in which they grow. A collector's genus but not generally available except as occasional promotion for their stone-like appearance.

The commoner species, which are mostly yellow-flowered include: L. aucampiae L. Bolus which has flat, reddish brown tops to the leaves and flowers with yellow petals; L. lesliei (N.E. Br.) N.E. Br. which has green tops to the closely pressed leaves which are not patterned or dotted; L. hookeri (Berg.) Schwantes [L. turbiniformis (Haw.) N.E. Br.] with the tops of the leaves brown, rounded, furrowed and lined.

Stone like appearance of plant body, often with flattened and patterned upper surface; ovary chambers 4-7.

About 37 species from Namibia, SE Botswana and most of S Africa.

Sprechman (1970), Cole (1988).

Source: Spencer, R.; Thompson, A. (1997). Aizoaceae. In: Spencer, R.. Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 2. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 1. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.

kingdom Plantae
phylum   Tracheophyta
class    Magnoliopsida
superorder     Caryophyllanae
order      Caryophyllales
family       Aizoaceae