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Products > Erepsia pillansii
Erepsia pillansii - Catherine Wheel
Image of Erepsia pillansii
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Aizoaceae (Ice Plants)
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Purple
Bloomtime: Spring/Summer
Synonyms: [Kensitia pillansii, Mesembryanthemum pillansii]
Height: 1-2 feet
Width: 1-2 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30 F
Erepsia pillansii (Catherine Wheel) - A open sparsely branching shrubby succulent that grows to 2 feet tall with reddish stems holding narrow blue-gray sickle-shaped leaves. In spring into summer appear the large strikingly unique 2 inch wide flowers in a flat topped inflorescence at the branch tips. The flowers have numerous paddle shaped petals that are a magenta-purple at the tips with narrow white bases and threadlike white sterile stamens in the middle. The flowers, unlike most other ice plants, remain open through the evening hours. Plant in full sun in a well drained soil and irrigate occasionally to very little - this is a drought-tolerant plant in our mediterranean climate. An extremely interesting and showy plant for the garden or as a container specimen. Though it is fairly long lived, this plant is adapted to regeneration within the fire prone fynbos vegetation type and gets a bit woody after 4 to 8 years so is best if it is replanted within this time frame. Erepsia pillansii grows naturally between 1,600 and 3,200 feet elevation in the Piketberg Mountains in Western Cape, South Africa. Dr. Harriet Margaret Louisa Bolus (Kensit was her maiden name) first described this plant as Mesembryanthemum pillansii in 1908 to honor Neville S. Pillans, a well-known Cape botanist. It was renamed Kensitia pillansii to honor Kensit-Bolus by Friedrich Karl Georg Feddein in 1940 and then combined with Erepsia by Sigrid Liede in 1990 based on similarities of the fruit and leaf morphology, but its flowers are unique within this genus. While the name Erepsia pillansii is considered current by most, both Erepsia pillansii and Kensitia pillansii are are listed (December 2012) as accepted names on The Plant List. The name Erepsia comes from the Greek word 'erepso' which is said to mean "I shall hide". The common name "Catherine Wheel" comes from the name for an extremely showy firework that rotates rapidly producing a display of sparks and flame in all directions but this was named after an instrument of torture, the breaking wheel, on which, legend has it St. Catherine was martyred. Another common name is Piketberg vygie. Our thanks to our friend John Bleck for this noteworthy plant. 

This information about Erepsia pillansii 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.