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Products > Crassula multicava
 
Crassula multicava - Fairy Crassula
   

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Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Crassulaceae (Stonecrops)
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Pink & White
Bloomtime: Winter
Synonyms: [Crassula quadrifida, Septimia multicava]
Height: <1 foot
Width: Spreading
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Seaside: Yes
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25 F
Crassula multicava (Fairy Crassula) A neatly-growing evergreen low-growing plant that rarely exceeds a foot tall in the landscape and is even lower when grown in dry shade. It forms wide mats of solid cover with 1 1/2 inch long glossy rounded leaves in opposite pairs that are dark and lustrous in the shade and paler green when grown in more sun and have small red dots on the upper surface. In winter appear the petite flowers which are pink in bud and then open to charming little white stars that are very showy as a spray above the foliage on reddish stems. After flowering small plantlets often form in the flower axils. A shade-loving plant that can also grow in full coastal sun. It is tolerant of extended dry periods when growing in shade and in fact needs no supplemental irrigation to survive in these conditions in Santa Barbara but will look better with an occasional watering. Though often listed for frost free gardens it has survived in our garden with little damage on the cold nights of December 1990 with temperatures around 20 F and 3 nights at 25 F in January 2007. It is long lived and responds well to hard pruning should one feel it is overgrown and cuttings strike easily if one is so inclined. This plant has long been in cultivation in California but never seems to be commonly offered in nurseries, which is surprising as it has been a commonly used plant in its native South Africa and a durable stalwart in older gardens in California. Sima Eliovson, described as the doyenne of garden writing in South Africa, says in her great book Wildflowers for Southern Africa "A delightful plant for a shady position, C. multicava should be grown in every garden". Since it grows carefree throughout the garden, some suggest it weedy, but it is not so rapidly growing and has such shallow roots that it really is not a pest. It is easily controllable or simple to move to a more wanted location or to share with friends. Crassula multicava occurs naturally along the forest margin, riparian areas and within coastal vegetation from Mpumulanga (Eastern Transvaal), Natal to the Eastern and southern Cape provinces. The genus Crassula was a Linnaean name first used in 1753 and comes from the Latin word 'crassus' meaning "thick" that refers to the thick plump leaves of many of the genus. The specific epithet given this plant by the French botanist Charles Antoine Lemaire (1800 - 1871) in 1862 comes from the Latin words 'multi' meaning "many" and 'cava' which means a "hollow", "hole" or "cavity" in reference to the pore-like holes in the leaves of this species. These holes, allowing the rapid uptake of water directly into the plant, are called "hydathodes", though this name has traditionally been used for a gland that secretes water instead of the reverse. Other common names for this plant include Pitted Crassula, Mosquito Flower, London Pride and Cape Province Pygmyweed.  The information on this page is based on research conducted about this plant in the San Marcos Growers library, from online sources, and from observations made of the crops growing in our nursery, plants in the nursery's garden and those in other gardens where we may have observed it. We also have incorporated comments received from others and welcome getting feedback from those who may have additional information, particularly if this information includes cultural information that would aid others in growing Crassula multicava.
 
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