Aptenia Cordifolia: Characteristics, Habitat, Properties, Cultivation

Aptenia cordifolia is a species of creeping herb for ornamental use that belongs to the Aizoaceae family. Commonly known as grateful, frost, kill the shadow, queen navel, dew or no sun you will not see me, it is a plant native to South Africa.

It is a herbaceous plant with covering habits and opposite heart-shaped leaves, fleshy and covered by small bladders. The flowers are made up of numerous purple petals that stand out from the bright green foliage.

Aptenia cordifolia. Source: pixabay.com

The species Aptenia cordifolia was described by the German archaeologist, botanist and historian Martin Heinrich Gustav Schwantes in 1928. However, this classification is synonymous with the species Mesembryanthemum cordifolium initially identified by the Swedish naturalist Carolus Linnaeus Filius in 1782.

Its main use is as an ornamental plant on rocks, sunny walls near the sea or hanging pots. It blooms during the summer and requires full sun exposure, otherwise the flowers close when they do not receive the sun’s rays.

Article index

  • one

    General characteristics

    • 1.1

      Appearance

    • 1.2

      Leaves

    • 1.3

      flowers

    • 1.4

      Fruit

  • two

    Taxonomy

    • 2.1

      Basonym

    • 2.2

      Etymology

    • 23

      Synonyms

    • 2.4

      Varieties

  • 3

    Habitat and distribution

  • 4

    Properties (edit)

  • 5

    Side effects

  • 6

    Culture

    • 6.1

      Spread

    • 6.2

      Location

    • 6.3

      I usually

    • 6.4

      Environmental conditions

  • 7

    Care

    • 7.1

      Irrigation

    • 7.2

      Driving

    • 7.3

      Plagues and diseases

  • 8

    References

General characteristics

Aptenia cordifolia flowers. Source: JJ Harrison (https://www.jjharrison.com.au/) [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)]

Appearance

It is a perennial herb with creeping habits whose slightly angled stems reach 40-100 cm in length and grow prostrate on the ground. The fibrous and branched root extends under the surface of the soil forming a tangle that, together with the dense foliage, prevents the growth of other species.

Leaves

The fleshy, ovate or heart-shaped leaves, 1-3 cm long, are flat, sessile, and arranged in a decussate or opposite way. They are generally bright green in color, with the presence of multiple small bladders on both sides being common. In the variety “variegata” the edges are white.

flowers

The radially symmetrical bisexual flowers are 1-2 cm in diameter and are located in the axillary position in a solitary manner or in groups of 2-4 units. They present 4 succulent sepals that protect the flower when it is closed, in addition to numerous linear purple petals of 3-5 mm and stamens of different sizes with yellow stigmas.

Fruit

The fruit is a dehiscent four-cavity loculicidal capsule, 1.3-1.5 mm long and brown in color. The reticulated seeds, one per loculum, measure 1 mm, are dark-brown in color, flat, kidney-shaped and have a rough surface.

Taxonomy

– Kingdom: Plantae

– Subkingdom: Tracheobionta

– Division: Magnoliophyta

– Class: Magnoliopsida

– Subclass: Caryophyllidae

– Order: Caryophyllales

– Family: Aizoaceae

– Subfamily: Mesembryanthemoideae

– Genus: Aptenia

– Species: Aptenia cordifolia (L. fil.) Schwant.

Basonym

Mesembryanthemum cordifolium (Lf) Schwant.

Etymology

Aptenia : the name of the genus comes from the Greek «apten, apters» which means «without wings». In relation to the capsules of the fruit, they do not have winged filaments.

cordifolia : the specific adjective derives from the Latin terms “cordis” and “folius” which mean “heart” and “foliage”. Alluding to the showy heart-shaped leaves.

Synonyms

Aptenia cordifolia (L. fil.) NE Br.

Litocarpus cordifolius (L. fil.) L. Bolus

Ludolfia cordifolius (L. fil.) L. Bolus

Mesembryanthemum cordifolium L. fil.

Tetracoilanthus cordifolius (L. fil.) F. Rappa & V. Camarrone

Varieties

– ‘Red Apple’: a very popular variety among gardeners, characterized by its larger, deep red flowers.

Aptenia cordifolia var. variegata : purple flowers and smaller leaves with white variegated margins.

Leaves of Aptenia cordifolia. Source: Ixitixel [CC BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)]

Habitat and distribution

The species Aptenia cordifolia is native to southern Africa, specifically the eastern coast of the Cape Province and the Kruger National Park in South Africa. At present it is obtained wild or cultivated in gardens as an ornamental plant in many regions around the planet.

It was introduced to Europe as an ornamental plant in the mid-18th and 19th centuries, by sailors who traded merchandise from South Africa. In the Iberian Peninsula it is found naturalized on the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts, rarely dispersed in the interior of the peninsula.

Its natural habitat is located in intervened spaces, on the fringes of water currents and little shaded areas. It is a plant that tolerates high solar radiation, polluted and saline environments near the sea, even drought, however, it is susceptible to frost.

In some environments it is considered an invasive plant, since it densely covers the surface of the land, competing with native species. Its easy adaptation and rapidity of growth prevents the growth of species of lower height, restricting the plant diversity where it reproduces massively.

It is considered a weed in South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania. In Victoria it is associated with saline soils and is considered a potential threat to native vegetation formations. In California, the southwestern US and New Zealand it is considered an invasive species.

Apical bud detail of Aptenia cordifolia. Source: Frank Vincentz [CC BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)]

Properties (edit)

The plant known as dew or frost is a creeping herb widely used as an ornamental plant in gardening and landscaping. Indeed, it is a fast-growing grass with flat, green, heart-shaped leaves that are ideal for covering walls, rocky areas and slopes.

In some regions, the fresh leaves are eaten as salad greens due to their spinach-like taste. Similarly, the frequent intake of infusions or tea from the fresh leaves is attributed anti-inflammatory and digestive properties.

Side effects

In the literature there is no evidence of its side effects, only its high invasive power is mentioned due to its great adaptability and growth speed. When environmental conditions are favorable, it grows abundantly, forming a dense mass that restricts the growth of native species, and even prevents the growth of weeds.

Aptenia cordifolia in its natural habitat. Source: Andrew Butko [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

Culture

Spread

Propagation is done easily and simply by means of vegetative cuttings, just cut a piece of branching and sow so that it takes root quickly. It is recommended to place the cutting superficially, just 1-3 cm deep so that the roots disperse on the ground.

A 15-20 cm cutting, sown in early spring, has the ability to generate a 25-35 cm tall plant and cover an area of ​​0.8-1.2 m 2 . The leaves have the same reproductive capacity and are used for propagation in hanging pots.

Location

It requires full sun exposure whether it is wild propagated or cultivated as an ornamental plant. It can be grown in partial shade, as long as it receives direct sunlight during the morning and at the end of the afternoon.

I usually

It adapts to any type of terrain, especially loose and permeable soils that facilitate drainage. It grows and develops easily on abandoned urban land, landfills, walls, roadsides, streams and near the sea. It is used as a cover to prevent the growth of weeds.

Environmental conditions

It prefers hot and dry climates, although it tolerates short periods of drought, it is susceptible to occasional frosts below -4 ºC. In cold climates with frequent frosts, it is recommended to shelter in a greenhouse or grow in pots to transplant again in spring.

Seeds of Aptenia cordifolia. Source: Philmarin [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Care

Irrigation

It is a species with low water requirements, since it has the ability to store water in its succulent tissues to withstand long periods of drought. In fact, it tolerates the lack of irrigation, but its development increases if it has a humid and well-drained soil.

The waterings can be moderate during the summer and less frequently during the winter, it is even recommended to suspend during the cold months. As an ornamental plant it does not support flooded soils, being appropriate to restrict watering only when the substrate is very dry.

Grown in pots, it should be watered frequently if it has been planted on a loose and well-drained substrate. Indeed, a substrate with optimal drainage is obtained by mixing black earth, organic fertilizer, sand and placing small stones at the bottom of the container.

Driving

Due to its easy adaptation to any edaphoclimatic condition, it does not require a special fertilizer, although it is convenient to fertilize lightly with organic fertilizer during spring and autumn. In addition, pruning is appropriate only when it is considered that the plant has grown too large or has invaded surrounding areas.

When used in gardening as a substitute for grass, it should be located in a place with little traffic, because it is a succulent plant that is very susceptible to footfalls. Indeed, damaged leaves tend to dry out over time. It is advisable to prune the damaged area and replant the damaged stems.

Aptenia cordifolia in gardening. Source: Forest & Kim Starr [CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)]

Plagues and diseases

The most frequent pests are mealybugs and aphids that affect the shoots and buds, feeding on the sap of the tender tissues. Its control is carried out manually with brushes or brushes, or by applying specific insecticides for each type of insect.

Environmental conditions of high relative humidity and waterlogging of the land can favor the appearance of various phytopathogenic fungi. Among the most common diseases are root rot and suffocation of the root system caused by waterlogging.

Root and stem neck rot occurs during winter when overwatered. Root asphyxia occurs in heavy soils with slow drainage that are flooded, either by frequent rains or watering.

References

  1. Arboleda, ME (2011). Effect of irradiance on the growth and development of Aptenia cordifolia (Lf) Schwantes as an ornamental cover. Bioagro, 23 (3), 175-184.
  2. Aptenia cordifolia . (2019). Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Recovered at: es.wikipedia.org
  3. Aptenia cordifolia (2016) Weeds of Australia – Biosecurity Queensland Edition Fact Sheet. Special edition of Environmental Weeds of Australia for Biosecurity Queensland.
  4. Béjar, D., Calvet, M., Font, J. and González, I. (2011) Aptenia cordifolia . InvasIBER. Invasive Exotic Species of the Iberian Peninsula. Recovered at: invasiber.org
  5. Gilman, Edward F. (1999) Aptenia cordifolia . University of Florida. Cooperative Extension Service. Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
  6. Lucas, N. (2009) Aptenia cordifolia (Lf) Schwantes. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. PlantZAfrica. Recovered at: pza.sanbi.org
  7. Mesembryanthemum cordifolium L. fil. (2018) Catalog of Life: 2019 Annual Checklist. Recovered at: catalogueoflife.org
  8. Mondragón Pichardo, J. & Vibrans, H. (2005) Aptenia cordifolia (L. f.) Schwantes. Weeds of Mexico. Recovered at: conabio.gob.mx

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