Adromischus cristatus: Crinkleleaf Plant
This section deals with plants similar to cacti in that they are also succulent but which belong to various other families. Here, too, succulence enables the plants to survive when there is a shortage of water. Other similar forms of adaptation on the part of some succulents, is the absence of leaves and a globose body, which makes them practically indistinguishable from cacti (for example Euphorbia obesa and E. horrida). In other plants the leaves are thickened and covered with a thick cuticle, sometimes also with waxy layers or thick hairs — all adaptations limiting the evaporation of water.
Cacti are a typical family of the American continent. Other succulents may be found throughout the world; most, however, are distributed in the Cape Province region, Madagascar and the Canary Islands.
The genus Adromischus embraces 52 species found chiefly in southern and south-west Africa. Many are shrub-like, but very small, often only several centimetres (a few inches) high.
Adromischus cristatus is one of the hardiest members of the genus. It is a small plant, about 8 cm (3 in) across, with a short woody stem and a rosette of stiff, succulent leaves that are wavy at the tip. The colour is grey green. The stem often bears numerous aerial roots. Several smallcoloured greenish white, sometimes pinkish, are produced on a stalk about 20 cm (8 in) long from July to September.
For successful growth the plant should be put in a warm and sunny spot. Reference books often state that it needs cool conditions in winter, but this is not a must — it will survive even in a warm room. The compost should be very free-draining, best of all a mixture of loam, sand and stone rubble; feed should be applied regularly in summer.
Related species are also lovely, in particular Adro-mischus maculatus with long reddish-brown markings on the leaves; A. marianae with leaves spotted the same colour; A. poellnitzianus and A. trigynus. They are, however, slightly more tender than the species and should be provided with cool conditions in winter.