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Products > Crassula multicava
Crassula multicava - Fairy Crassula

[2nd Image]
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 in our nursery library and from online sources as well as from observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery's garden and in other gardens that we have visited. We have also incorporated comments received from others and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have some additional information, particularly if this information is contrary to what we have written or includes additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing  Crassula multicava.