Lithops aucampiae ssp. aucampiae var. aucampiae Seeds
Family: Mesembryanthemaceae (Vygie Family)
Common Names: Living Stone, Stoneplant
Lithops are probably the most well known and popular member of the large succulent plant family, the Mesembryanthemaceae. They are commonly called living stones or stone plants because they so closely resemble the surrounding pebbles of their natural habitat, either in coloration or shape or both. This camouflage allows them to escape detection and is a very effective strategy for escaping predation. Their resemblance to stones has also given the genus its scientific name: from the Greek lithos meaning stone and opsis meaning appearance or resemblance. They are known in Afrikaans as beeskloutjies, because the plants also look like miniature hoofprints of cattle. A lithops plant consists of a two-lobed, upside down cone-shaped, body that is in fact a fused and thickened pair of opposite leaves. The stem is very short and not visible. In their native habitat the leaf pair grows sunken in the gravely soil with only the upper portion visible. This part is called the window, and it allows light into the inner portion of the leaf where it is diffused before reaching the green chlorophyll, which is scattered along the inner leaf margins, where the process of photosynthesis is carried out. The leaf pair is replaced by a new one every year and the leaf sap is recycled from the older to the younger leaf pair, thus maximizing on moisture and nutrient conservation. Lithops plants will produce more than one leaf pair so that a single body gradually becomes a smallish cluster. Each leaf pair will produce one solitary bright daisy-like flower during autumn. This flower is usually white or yellow in colour, about 25 mm in diameter, and appears in the fissure of the leaf pair. They open late in the day and close up again at dusk and could be pollinated by any number of bees, flies, wasps, gnats, bugs etc that are common in the area.
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