Ceropegia sandersonii

Ceropegia sandersonii was discovered by John Sanderson in 1867 and was brought to Kew a year later; it has remained in cultivation ever since. This species can be found in South Africa and Mozambique. Ceropegias are difficult to find in the wild because the stems blend in with the surroundings and climb through bushes for support. It is mainly when the plant flowers that they can be spotted, which is especially the case with C. sandersonii because of its large flowers, up to five centimetres long, which are green and white with a parachute-like structure. They are fly-pollinated; the flies are trapped in the flower for a couple of days and then released to fly to the next flower to repeat the process.

1610 Fig1 Ceropegia sandersonii

Fig. 1 Ceropegia sandersonii

After successful pollination, the plant produces seed horns with plenty of seed. Freshly sown seed germinates very quickly and will produce a reasonably sized plant in a few months. In cultivation it crosses easily with C. stapeliiformis and C. radicans, resulting in some very nice hybrids. Plants can easily be propagated by cuttings if seed is not available.

1610 Fig2 Ceropegia monteiroae

Fig. 2 Ceropegia monteiroae

C. sandersonii can be grown in various types of compost and can be kept in a shaded greenhouse, or grown in full sun on a window sill. It does not require that much water, making it an ideal house plant. Like its close relative C. woodii, C. sandersonii is destined to become quite common in cultivation, because it is produced in large numbers by a nursery in Holland.

There are two distinctive forms of this plant. There is the original and more common C. sandersonii and there is C. monteiroae which is no longer classed separately, but as part of the sandersoniis. C. monteiroae is not that often seen in cultivation. C. sandersonii is mainly found in Natal and C. monteiroae more towards the north in Swaziland and Mozambique. The main difference between the two is the size; the flower of C. monteiroae is altogether slimmer and the roof is not as pronounced. The flower of C. monteiroae has smaller openings with bunches of purple hairs, while the C. sandersonii flower has individual whitish hairs in smaller numbers.

Paul Shirley

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