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This is one of the most easily recognisable Huernias, with its short, cylindrical stems looking like small fir trees.

1015 Fig1 Hpillansii

Fig 1 Huernia pillansii

Peter Bruyns says it is widely distributed in the southern parts of South Africa in the little Karoo and south-western flank of the great Karoo and is always found in stony places under short bushes. It was originally described in 1902 by N.S. Pillans who found it in stony places near Matjiesfontein.

Flowers appear pale brown and are similar to those of H. longii. The stems are similar to Stapelianthus pilosus although the connection ends there and is purely cosmetic.

1015 Fig2 Hpillansiiseedpods

Fig 2 Huernia pillansii with seed pods

By and large it does not cause me too much difficulty in growing. It gets my standard mix of multi-purpose compost liberally mixed with grit, perlite and cat litter and I feed it at every watering, with acidified water, with Phostrogen (quarter strength) and ammonium sulphate. At present it is growing in a large saucer which it has filled and probably needs starting again.

1015 Fig3 Hpillansiiflower

Fig 3 Huernia pillansii flower

As John Pilbeam says it can grow quite rapidly in cultivation but just as rapidly dissolve into mush, although that has not happened to me. Yet..................

Mike Cullen

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