Cotyledon woodii Schönland & Baker f.
Common names: Wood's Cotyledon
Cotyledon woodii is suitable as an interesting succulent shrub for containers or rockeries, with its bold, orange, bird-pollinated flowers.
Cotyledon woodii is a much-branched, succulent shrub, up to 1.2 m tall. Erect branches are succulent and green initially, slightly woody with maturity. Light grey-green leaves are flat, hairless and obovate, rarely sticky with glandular hairs.
Solitary, orange to red flowers are presented on a terminal, short, inflorescence stalk, from December to April, with sporadic flowering year round.
Cotyledon woodii is not threatened.
Distribution and habitat
This species is usually found in Valley Bushveld vegetation, in wooded valleys and on rocky outcrops, in the Western and Eastern Cape Provinces, from the Swartberg Mountains near Ladismith to the former Transkei. Plants can also be found on quarzitic sandstone on eastern slopes in the Klein Winterhoek Mountains. Average summer rainfall is 300–500 mm per annum. Summers are hot and winters mild.
Derivation of name and historical aspects
Cotyledon is derived from the Greek, kotylēdōn, which mean ‘cup-shaped hollow ’ and the specific epithet honors the British botanist, John Medley Wood (1827–1915), who first collected the species near East London. He later immigrated to Natal in 1852.
This is a rather variable species and various forms are cultivated.
- Cotyledon woodii 'Gamtoos' is a selection cultivated from the Kouga Dam, Eastern Cape Province and form erect to rounded shrubs, with sticky leaves.
- Cotyledon woodii 'Grey Eggs', also from Kouga Dam area is similar, but has smooth, grey leaves.
- Another form, with shiny green leaves and red margins is called Cotyledon woodii 'Port Elizabeth', named from its place of origin in the Eastern Cape.
Cotyledon pendens is closely related to Cotyledon woodii, but differs by its growth habit and branched inflorescence.
Cotyledon woodii is pollinated by birds, like many other Cotyledon species.
This cotyledon is suitable for rockery plantings or containers.
Growing Cotyledon woodii
Cotyledon woodii will grow in full sun to partial shade as a rockery or container plant. It is able to withstand light frost. In areas of high rainfall or heavy frost, it would be best as a container plant, which can be brought in under cover from rain.
Tip cuttings can be taken any time of the year. Place in a sandy, well-drained growth medium, directly into the desired container. A rooting hormone can be applied, but not necessary for rooting success. Rooting will take place readily, and cuttings require potting up after a few months.
Propagation from seed is successful, but slow to flower as it will take many years for the plantlets to develop. Sow seed in spring in sandy, well-drained soil. Cover very lightly and keep moist, but not overly wet.
Infrequent liquid or organic fertilizing with a balanced fertilizer will encourage a healthy vibrant, well-shaped plant.
Common pests include scale, mealy bug, weevils and caterpillars. All can be treated with suitable biological or chemical solutions.
- Raimondo, D. et al. 2009. Red list of South African plants. Strelitzia 25. SANBI (South African National Biodiversity Institute), Pretoria.
- Van Jaarsveld, E. & Koutnik, D. 2004. Cotyledon and Tylecodon. Umdaus Press, Hatfield, Pretoria.
Monique McQuillan & Ernst van Jaarsveld
Plant Type: Succulent
SA Distribution: Eastern Cape, Western Cape
Soil type: Sandy
Flowering season: Late Summer, Autumn, Sporadic/All year
Flower colour: Red, Orange
Aspect: Full Sun, Morning Sun (Semi Shade), Afternoon Sun (Semi Shade)
Gardening skill: Easy