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Conophytum ratum Like the genus Lithops, Conophytums are also members of the Mesembryanthemaceae and African in origin. This particular plant is a member of the Cheshire-Feles section of the genus as identified in the latest literature on the genus, other members in this section being Conophytums burgeri and acutum, to name but two. The section's name 'Cheshire-Feles' is one of Steve Hammer's jokes, in that the plants smile at you and then slowly disappear.

1212 Cono

The plant forms up to four heads but a single headed plant as shown is quite impressive, the body being some 30 x 25 mm in size, with the top of the body being two windowed lobes which are smaller than the main body dimensions. Multi-headed plants tend to be smaller and therefore not so impressive.

This particular species comes from the area of the Gamsberg and Namiesberg in northern Bushmanland to the west of Pofadder, and grows in quartzite patches with just the windowed area on display in association with Avonia, Dinteranthus and Conophytum angelicae. I have never seen the plant in habitat although I have visited the general area.

I find that cultivation is relatively easy. I pot it up in my usual compost, which is a 50/50 mix of John Innes no 3 and small sharp potting grit with two large handfuls of bonemeal added per 30 litre bag mixed up. The plant is potted up in a plastic pot of the appropriate size with just the root system in the soil and the surface is then top dressed with pea gravel. It is put on the main benching and watered from late June until mid November, watering consisting of giving it a good soaking and then allowing it to dry out totally before repeating the process. Flowers appear for me in late September and are light pink in colour.

Eddy Harris

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