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Products > Othonna capensis
Othonna capensis - Little Pickles
Image of Othonna capensis
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Asteraceae (Sunflowers)
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Yellow
Bloomtime: Spring/Fall
Synonyms: [O. crassifolia, Hort., Crassothonna capensis]
Height: <1 foot
Width: 1-2 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 10-15 F
Othonna capensis (Little Pickles) - A moderately slow-growing evergreen succulent with fat swollen blue-green upright 1 inch long pickle-shaped leaves that grows in dense clumps to not much more than 4 inches tall and spreads to about 1 foot wide with foliage often blushing a purple red when drought stressed. From mid-spring through fall and sometimes year-round appear the bright yellow 1/2 inch wide daisy flowers that emerge from small violet-hued pea shaped buds and rise not more than an inch or two above the foliage. Plant in full sun in a well-drained site and water sparingly - some claim it likes regular water to be happy in hotter areas but for us along the coast it grows great with other succulents in a rarely irrigated bed. Does not like wet feet at all in the winter so best in a raised bed, along a rock wall or container if soil drainage is not great. Considered hardy to 10F and some say tolerant to USDA zone 5. Looking a bit like a well behaved green Iceplant until the flowers reveal it unrelated, it is a great little plant as a groundcover, along a dry border, in a container or scattered in with other succulents in a well-drained rock garden. This plant hails from the rough Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa. Fittingly the name Drakensberg means 'dragon mountain' in Afrikaans and the Zulu people called it uKhahlamba, which translates to a 'barrier of spears'. The genus name Othonna that this plant long had has two possible derivations - one is that it was the Greek name for a plant from Syria or Arabia that was used medicinally. Alternatively it could come from the Greek word 'othone' meaning "linen" that was used for a different plant with perforated leaves. This plant was previously described as Othonna crassifolia by the Irish botanist William Henry Harvey in his Flora Capensis in 1865 as but renamed by American horticulturist Liberty Hyde Baily and published in his Cyclopedia of American Horticulture in 1901, who noted at the time that the plant was in "general cultivation as a window-garden plant" and that it was sometimes dubbed "Little Pickles" because of its cylindrical, pulpy leaves". Bailey explained the need to rename this plant as Othonna crassifolia, the name used by Harvey, was a name for another Othonna that had previously been named by Linnaeus. Other common names include Cape Aster, Cape Othonna and the Afrikaans name of it is Bobbejaankool. A selection that blushes red discoved in Australia has the cultivar name 'Ruby Necklace'. In 2012 the name Crassothonna was erected by Bertil Nordenstam to separate a clade of plants in the genus Othonna with succulent terete leaves that includes this species, making the new name of this plant Crassothonna capensis. This is supported by molecular sequence data (DNA or protein sequences) but while this change seems to have been accepted by the International Plant Name Index and Kew's plant database, other nomenclatural databases have retained the older name and for our horticultural usage we continue to call this plant Othonna capensis. 

This information about Othonna capensis displayed on this web page is based on research we have conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations we have made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens visited, as well how our crops have performed in containers in the nursery field. Where appropriate, we will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share cultural information that would aid others in growing this plant.