Conophytum is a genus of succulents that contains over a hundred species. These succulents are mainly found in South Africa and Namibia and are referred to as knopies, buttons, cones or dumplings.
If you are considering growing them on your own, you can go through this Conophytum care and propagation guide.
- 1 Types of Conophytum
- 2 How Do You Take Care of Conophytum?
- 3 How to Propagate Conophytum
- 4 Conophytum Species and Varieties
- 4.1 Conophytum angelicae
- 4.2 Conophytum auriflorum
- 4.3 Conophytum bilobum
- 4.4 Conophytum blandum
- 4.5 Conophytum burgeri
- 4.6 Conophytum calculus
- 4.7 Conophytum caroli
- 4.8 Conophytum chauviniae
- 4.9 Conophytum devium
- 4.10 Conophytum ectypum
- 4.11 Conophytum flavum
- 4.12 Conophytum friedrichiae
- 4.13 Conophytum frutescens
- 4.14 Conophytum globosum
- 4.15 Conophytum hians
- 4.16 Conophytum jucundum
- 4.17 Conophytum limpidum
- 4.18 Conophytum lithopsoides
- 4.19 Conophytum loeschianum
- 4.20 Conophytum longum
- 4.21 Conophytum lydiae
- 4.22 Conophytum marginatum
- 4.23 Conophytum maughanii
- 4.24 Conophytum minimum
- 4.25 Conophytum minutum
- 4.26 Conophytum obcordellum
- 4.27 Conophytum pellucidum
- 4.28 Conophytum praesectum
- 4.29 Conophytum pubescens
- 4.30 Conophytum quaesitum
- 4.31 Conophytum ratum
- 4.32 Conophytum ricardianum
- 4.33 Conophytum saxetanum
- 4.34 Conophytum subfenestratum
- 4.35 Conophytum tantillum
- 4.36 Conophytum taylorianum
- 4.37 Conophytum truncatum
- 4.38 Conophytum uviforme
- 4.39 Conophytum velutinum
- 4.40 Conophytum violaciflorum
- 4.41 Conophytum wettsteinii
Types of Conophytum
1,000 Types of Succulents With Pictures
How Do You Take Care of Conophytum?
Conophytum plants have their own care requirements that are important to follow so that they can grow healthily. You can learn more about these care requirements below.
Conophytum plants tend to require a good amount of bright sunlight during the day. However, they can experience sunburn if they are exposed to too much direct sunlight and hot temperatures.
To prevent this, you can keep the plant under the sun during the early morning. If you are growing them indoors, you can keep them on your balcony or windowsill. Once the temperature starts rising, you can shift them into the shade.
You should also avoid immediately exposing them to bright sunlight. Once their dormancy period ends, you can introduce them to sunlight slowly so that they do not burn.
These plants can grow well in warm climates. They can also stand the cold up to a certain extent but not if the temperatures become freezing.
You should water these plants thoroughly and regularly during their growing period which usually takes place from fall to early spring. Watering them once a week or even in two weeks can set a good routine for them.
However, make sure you do not overwater these plants as this could lead to root rot. You should wait for the soil to become dry before you water the plant again.
These succulents tend to enter their dormant state in late spring that can then last throughout summer. At this stage, you should reduce or avoid watering to let the plant rest. If required, you can water it lightly once a month.
Conophytum plants require porous and well-draining soil that can quickly get rid of excess water without retaining it or letting it collect. You can easily find a soil mix that is made for growing succulents in a local or online store.
You can also make this soil mix on your own by combining some potting soil with peat, sand, perlite and limestone.
To add to the draining element, you can place this soil in a large well-draining pot or one that has holes to prevent water from pooling in the soil.
These succulents do not require too much fertilizer to grow healthily as they can manage to do this on their own. In fact, you do not need to add any fertilizer until the plant has spent three years in the pot.
However, you can help promote its growth by adding in a bit of fertilizer right before its growing season as well as once it is about to bloom flowers.
You should use a fertilizer that does not contain too much nitrogen. Make sure you dilute it sufficiently before you feed it to the soil.
Pests and Diseases
Overall, you might not face too many issues with this plant in terms of pests and diseases. However, there are still some chances of pests like mealybugs which you can get rid of using a pesticide or insecticide. You can also try using rubbing alcohol.
Apart from these, caterpillars and snails might also get attracted to these plants that you can try to spot and remove.
Root rot and swelling can also take place if you overwater or overfertilize these plants. Discoloration can also take place in some cases, in which case you can change the light or soil conditions.
How to Propagate Conophytum
You can propagate Conophytum using either seeds or clusters.
Go through the following steps for seed propagation.
- Source the seeds from a reliable online store or from local nurseries.
- Fill a pot or container with the soil mix that is porous and well draining.
- Sow the seeds into this soil. Do not sow them in too deep.
- Cover the seeds with a small amount of sand to prevent water pooling.
- Water them well and wait for a month for the seeds to germinate. You can then reduce the watering level.
You can plant clusters through the following process.
- You will need to cut out leaf clusters from a mature plant. Make sure you include the roots in these clusters along with a couple of leaves.
- Prepare a pot with enough well-draining soil and a large enough container.
- Plant one cluster in each pot.
- Water the soil regularly and provide gradual sunlight to allow the plant to grow healthily.
You can also try using stem cuttings and planting them into the soil using the same method. Make sure you cut them evenly.
Conophytum Species and Varieties
Conophytum angelicae is a small caespitose species with pea-like bodies, forming a dense cluster in age, the sole member of subsection ‘Costifera’ TISCHER. It ‘mimics’ the colour and texture of the silt and quartzite among which it grows; the new bodies resemble the one, the sheaths, the other. Its earth-coloured flowers open only at night, so even these are inconspicuous.
Conophytum angelicae subsp. tetragonum
Plant caespitose, forming a dense cluster or fan in age. It is very famous for its rough square body.
Conophytum auriflorum is a small densely branched perennial succulent that forms low clumps or mats. The fused leaf pairs are cone-shaped, dark green with reddish on sides. While the small bright yellow autumn flowers are already fully developed here, the new leaves are lurking inside the papery husks of their predecessors from last season. They still display the withered rest-season look of the dry summer. The young leaves will swell out fully from inside them as the winter rain allows. Conophytum auriflorum was named for the gold of its petals.
Conophytum auriflorum subsp. turbiniforme
It is distinguished from the latter by larger, flatter turbiniform grass-green bodies dotted with green and never with red striations, moreover it has longer and thinner petals.
Conophytum bilobum is a robust caespitose (groundcover) plant, stemless or with short stems with time. This plant is one of the most widespread and morphologically variable taxon of the genus. It has short internodes, leaf-tips (lobes) free, leaves 1 to 6 cm long, more or less triangular in shape and keeled. The flowers are large yellow.
Conophytum bilobum subsp. altum
Conophytum bilobum subsp. altum is a bilobe, but forms slender upright stems with age, unlike other bilobes. Moreover it has a rather meagre number of petals as compared with the plenitude of the corolla of other bilobes.
Conophytum bilobum subsp. gracilistylum
Conophytum bilobum subsp. gracilistylum is the southernmost bilobe colony known, with unusual pale pink flowers. It is reasonably small and has neat, glossy, very slender, long-lobed, pale green bodies with a fine spotting. This subspecies will flower for several weeks if amply supplied. Seedlings cluster rapidly; the primary body often divides into three.
Conophytum blandum is a small but robust caespitose (groundcover) plant, stemless or with short stems with time. It grows up to 4 centimetres tall and 2 centimetres thick. The leaves have a low degree of basal fusion, the free leaf-tips (lobes) are about 10 mm long and triangular in shape, keeled and apiculated. The margins are green to red or deep purple in colour.
The epidermis is whitish-green to glaucous to deep blue-green or brownish pink in colour. The epidermis could be spotted or completely smooth. The flowers are large, white to light violet, changing to rose.
Conophytum burgeri, sometimes referred to as ‘Burger’s Onion’, is a small desert plant that looks like a strange ‘strawberry-coloured’ onion and is the oddest member of the genus. It is very slow to clump up; four or five heads being the maximum normally seen in cultivation. Unlike many conophytums (e.g. Conophytum bilobum and Conophytum obcordellum) it is a spring and summer growing plant. During winter the plants are covered by a white sheath. Old plants can reach the size of a small chicken egg.
It is solitary, rarely doubled, but up to 5 headed in cultivation, not sunken. Leaves wholly fused 13-25(-30) mm tall, 20-25 (-30) mm in diameter at the base, broadly ovate or conical, flat toward the base and sometimes indented or scalloped around the base, translucent pale grey-green to rich ruby red, shiny, very smooth, covered with persistent white flaking sheaths. Fissure glabrous, short 2-4 mm long often inconspicuous.
The marble buttons (Conophytum calculus) is a great looking, globular-bodied Conophytum, which forms clumps and yellow flowers. It is one of the most popular species of the genus (perhaps the most plentiful of all species) and is easily recognizable by its spherical heads without dark dots or stripes. It is indeed quite variable in size with small to large-bodied forms.
Conophytum calculus subsp. vanzylii
Conophytum calculus subsp. vanzylii is a local or morphological form of the globular-bodied Conophytum calculus, which occurs far to the northeast, in Bushmanland, and it differs in its epidermal colours
A solitary or sparsely branched succulent that forms tiny mounds of radically unequal bodies. Leaves up to 30 mm long, 15 mm in diameter, soft to the touch, pulpy, brownish-green, paler towards the margins, half-fused, apex convex to truncate yellowish-green to brown, very finely papillate (sometimes slightly warty), squarish from above, windowed translucent and shining at the apex, fissure zone broad. Flowers are narrow, occasionally paired, petals white, pink or tan pink.
Conophytum chauviniae is a dwarf rock-like perennial leaf-succulent, often very small, forming fairly large mats or domes of small greyish-green bodies with nice pink or purple blooms.
Conophytum devium is one of the smallest species with minuscule and cryptic heads but larger forms are known which tend to look intermediate with Conophytum longum. It grows up to 10 mm long, 6 mm thick, soft, greenish, short-papillate, pyriform, lobes pressed together, apices irregularly truncate to convex above, windowed above.
Its flower petals are pink to white.
Conophytum ectypum is a widely distributed, variable small species. It grows up to 85-10(-25) mm tall, 4-6(-10) mm in diameter, wholly fused (with a very small fissure), cylindrical or hatched-shaped (inverse-cone-shaped), with a truncate or convex apex, rather soft, often keeled and enclosed in firm papery sheaths, greyish-green to purple, upper surface smooth, with a prominent line around the fissure, variably striate, striations not strongly reddened with ridges or raised dark green dots and sides of bodies not or only subtly sulcate.
Conophytum ectypum subsp. brownii
Conophytum ectypum subsp. brownii is a local or morphological form of the widely distributed and variable small species Conophytum ectypum that is more truncate at the top and has a few more lines upon it; there is no other difference.
Conophytum ectypum subsp. cruciatum
It has the apex of bodies cruciform and sides of bodies not or only subtly sulcate.
Conophytum ectypum subsp. sulcatum
It has sides of bodies sulcate.
Conophytum flavum is a tiny bluish-green succulent plant with golden yellow flowers, these plants are variably caespitose, with single or double bodies, or forming dense mats or cushions.
Conophytum flavum subsp. novicium
Conophytum flavum subs. novicium is a small caespitose ground-cover species forming tight or loose mats or cushions. It can be confused with Conophytum minutum var. pearsonii, but flowers and sheaths differentiate them. Known to hybridise in habitat with Conophytum wettesteinii.
It grows up to 8-12(-20) mm tall, 6-8(-9) mm in diameter, constricted below the top, circular, flattish convex on the top, with a very slight depressed fissure, light greyish-green to deep green, glabrous to finely papillate, spotted with darker green dots, often shiny.
Conophytum friedrichiae is a tiny stemless perennial succulent. In its habitat it is usually single but, especially in cultivation, may forms mounds of purple or green grapes.
Conophytum friedrichiae var. triebneri
Tiny groundcover succulent similar to a Lithops but with shiny big spotted purple-grey eyes. Good clumper.
Conophytum frutescens grows up to 35 mm tall, 15 mm wide, are flat, more than half fused, claw-shaped, slit which gapes open, and the two lobes are rather prominent, yellowish-green, grey-green, or turquoise, glabrous, spotted, marked with dully purple streaks or patches on the keels and on edge of fissure between the lobes. Between the two leaf tips of each fused pair, the dried out remains of flowers from the previous season are visible.
The orange mid-day flowers are quite unusual: similar coloration only otherwise occurs in conophytums with nocturnal blooms, or in hybrids between species with violet petals and species with yellow petals.
Conophytum globosum is a dwarf compact ground-cover succulent with delicate white flowers touched with pink. It has nearly globose pale green bodies suggesting the epithet.
It grows up to 20 mm large, 15 mm tall, kidney-shaped, globose to turbiniform, shining pale green, usually unspotted, always glabrous, never marked with red. During the summer season, plants aestivate and the body is gradually replaced by a new young pair of leaves.
Conophytum hians is a tight dwarf mat forming species. In cultivation it is a fast clumper that produces too many bodies in a rush. This habit persists even with the sparsest watering.
Conophytum jucundum named for its “pleasant” character (from Latin name jucundum meaning pleasant, jocund.) is a dwarf plant with small rounded, light-green and spotted evergreen bodies, forming in its development a tight or loose mat or cushion reaching a height of 6–15 centimetres. It is quite variable.
In fact, the relationships between the various ecotypes of C. jucundum and also Conophytum obscurum need further research. It might be better known under the later name of Conophytum gratum (a name younger than C. jucundum) or one of the various other segregate species that have been lumped together.
Conophytum jucundum subsp. fragile
Conophytum jucundum subs. fragile is a dwarf caespitose plant with small rounded, light-green and spotted evergreen bodies, forming in its development a loose mat or cushion reaching a height of few centimetres. The epitet “fragilis” ( friable, breakable) refers to the easily broken internodes.
Conophytum jucundum subsp. marlothii
It has bodies less than 8 mm tall, apically truncate, finely marked.
Conophytum limpidum is a small groundcover plant similar to a Lithops but with a shiny green epidermis. Good clumper.
Conophytum lithopsoides subsp. koubergense
Succulent rusty-red bodies similar to dwarf Lithops with exquisite markings, these plants are variably caespitose, with single or double bodies, or forming small mats or cushions.
Conophytum loeschianum is a densely caespitose succulent plant, forming small or large, very compact mats or domes. The bodies (modified leaves) are very small only a few millimetres in size. Flowers are nocturnal and always have some sort of coppery-orange colouration.
Conophytum longum is a miniature succulent prized by enthusiasts for its beautiful, velvety-soft, lime green bodies with striking white or pink flowers. It is one of the most free-flowering species of the whole genus.
Conophytum lydiae, also known as Ophthalmophyllum lydiae, is a dwarf leaf-succulent with beautiful, green bodies, with striking pink flowers. Single or sparsely branched with age.
Conophytum marginatum is a dwarf perennial leaf-succulent, that divide quite freely forming small to fairly large mats or domes of 20-100 bodies with nice purplish blooms. Named for its reddened margins.
Conophytum marginatum subsp. haramoepense
The lobes are short, curved inwards, and often nearly fuse.
Conophytum maughanii is a soil-embedded, subterranean species with windowed leaves that usually has only one body or rarely forms a small group with few heads.
Conophytum maughanii subsp. armeniacum
Bodies are very flat, nearly opaque.
Conophytum maughanii subsp. latum
Conophytum maughanii subs. latum, is a distinctive subspecies of Conophytum maughanii with convex, windowed bodies. Its bodies occur singly or in pairs and are cylindrical to conical, up to 25 mm tall, yellowish-green to brilliant red, and slightly papillous, and the flowers are smaller, nocturnal and very strongly scented.
This subspecies has been named for its proportions; the bodies are often broader than tall. Dried sheath pale brownish-yellow, marked with scattered tannins (dots), very thin.
Conophytum minimum is a dwarf succulent species with great looking tiny bodies marked with few to many reddish dots and lines and scented nocturnal flowers. It is very variable and many names have been applied in the past to various ecotypes.
Markings can be quite minimal or in some cases very pronounced such as in the old species Conophytum wittebergense. Growers tend to have indulged in the unnatural selection and the best-marked forms are highly prized. It is extremely decorative even without flowers.
Conophytum minimum ‘wittebergense’
Conophytum wittebergense is one of the innumerable ecotypes of the very variable Conophytum minimum. It is an outstanding species with tiny bodies marked with a network of dark red dots and lines on top. It shows an incredible complexity of patterns and growers have indulged in the unnatural selection and the best-marked forms are highly prized.
Some of those are well-decorated with fantastic red lines and others are almost black, due to the lines becoming a solid mass. The small white flowers are nocturnal and highly scented. It is extremely decorative even without flowers.
Conophytum minutum is aptly named for it is only 1 cm tall body, it is in fact one of the smallest or dwarf succulents that offset readily forming small compact or lax mats or ball-shaped mounds. The numerous tiny bodies are grey-green and smooth. The flowers are pink to purple, or, rarely white.
Conophytum minutum var. pearsonii
Conophytum pearsoni is one of the smallest or dwarf cushion-forming succulent (but not so-minute as C. minutum is) that offsets readily forming small tightly packed clumps. It makes geometrical clusters of plants bodies, a sphere formed of spheres.
Conophytum obcordellum is a dwarf succulent species with tiny pancake-shaped bodies marked with few to many dots and lines, these often raised and glossy. It is extremely decorative even without flowers.
Conophytum obcordellum subsp. rolfii
Leaves very small greysh-green to reddish with coarse fine lines and reddish papillae
Conophytum obcordellum subsp. stenandrum
Few branched distinctively metallic greysh-green with fine lines and dots not extending down the sides.
Conophytum pellucidum is a tiny densely branched perennial succulent named for its pellucid apex. It is a beautiful and variable species that is very widespread in habitat and it is possible to recognise at sight many hundreds of populations, each showing subtly or even greater differences. It forms low clumps or mats.
Conophytum praesectum, which used to be in the genus Opthalmophylum which is now obsolete, is a member of the confusing Conophytum longum complex. It is a dwarf perennial succulent plant usually with only one soft fleshed, stemless body telescoped to a single pair of compressed, united leaves, but may form small clumps, especially in cultivation.
The name praesectum is usually applied to plants in the Pofadder area that have a lot of red-brown colouration in the leaves. Some populations produce dainty pink or rich purple flowers, others are pale pink or pure white, and some are mixed.
Conophytum pubescens is a minuscule perennial succulent, solitary or sparsely branched that forms tiny mounds of unequal bodies.
Conophytum quaesitum is a dwarf compact ground-cover succulent with bi-lobed light green bodies. It is not sunken, heavily branched and grows in tight large mats or clusters. It’s another very variable species with leaves varying in size, shape and in flower colour.
Conophytum quaesitum var. rostratum
Conophytum quaesitum var. rostratum is a dwarf almost stemless, succulent, distinguished from the type species for its beak-like lobes. Plants are caespitose and form dense cushions by means of offshoots, internodes short, l mm. In their normal, natural state each stem has only one pair of leaves at a time although one plant may have dozens of stems and thus dozens of leaf pairs. Flowers are nocturnal small, cream coloured and scented. Plants vary in size, shape and flower colour.
Conophytum ratum is a soil-embedded, subterranean species with windowed leaves that usually has only one body or rarely forms a small group with few heads. It is one of the most peculiar species reminding of odd jelly candies.
Conophytum ricardianum is a densely caespitose species, composed of numerous interlocking bodies. This species is closely related to Conophytum obcordellum.
Conophytum saxetanum is perennial succulent forming dense mats or domes up to 4 cm tall with several hundred heads. It is one of the smaller species. Depending on the growing conditions they can live up to 100 years and more.
Conophytum subfenestratum are commonly solitary in the wild but will build small clusters in cultivation, with the general appearance of a lithops. The green to olive-brown plant body grows sunken into the ground, with only the flat top exposed. It produces pretty pink flowers with a yellow centre.
Conophytum tantillum is a small densely branched species. It grows up to 10 mm tall, 8-10 mm in wide and about 6 mm thick, cone-shaped or cylindric below, apex wedged, bibbed, the widely gaping cleft is usually round or elliptical, keels often multiple, epidermis trichomous, greyish-green, yellowish-green or reddish, with green or red striations which widen at each ends, and have prominent dark red margins, sheaths brown very ﬁrm.
Conophytum tantillum subsp. amicorum
Conophytum tantillum subsp. amicorum distinguishes for the thick bodies, always unlined, and subtly keeled. The yellow flowers contain the yellow pigment betaxanthin.
Conophytum tantillum subsp. eenkokerense
Conophytum tantillum subs. eenkokerense is a small densely branched species with markings consisting of linked green spots. It is closer to Conophytum tantillum subsp. helenae in pattern and angularity. Probably the closest subspecies.
Conophytum tantillum subsp. inexpectatum
Bodies slender, usually lined with red or green, glabrous.
Conophytum tantillum subsp. lindenianum
Leaves yellowish-green, plant is diploid.
Conophytum taylorianum is a dwarf, rock-like, perennial succulent forming colonies and producing an abundance of flowers every year during the latter part of the summer. It is quite variable with several intergrading forms.
Conophytum taylorianum subsp. ernianum
Conophytum taylorianum subs. ernianum is a dwarf, rock-like, perennial succulent forming a large dimpled mat less than 4 cm tall and producing an abundance of flowers every year during the latter part of the summer.
Conophytum truncatum is a slow-growing, clump-forming, perennial succulent that forms huge tight mounds of sometimes many hundreds of pea-shaped heads, each one of them consisting of one pair of reduced, fused succulent leaves that get absorbed and regenerated every year.
This species comprises many morphological and geographical variant that was early classified as different independent species, but nowadays all these forms are considered part of a multiform species, where each form is linked to others by populations of plants with intermediate characteristics.
Conophytum uviforme is a dwarf perennial succulent, up to 4 cm tall often forming fairly large mats or domes of small but nicely marked greyish-green to earth-coloured bodies. It is one of the most popular species widely grown by collectors. Some specimens are very attractively coloured and marked.
Conophytum uviforme subsp. decoratum
Leaves are small; marked with streaks and spots.
Conophytum uviforme subsp. rauhii
Leaves small metallic and striate.
Conophytum uviforme subsp. subincanum
Leaves are small and sparsely marked.
Conophytum velutinum is a richly branched species closely related to the Conophytum bilobum but with pink-violet blooms. This would appear to be very similar in form and size to Conophytum cordatum. It grows to about 1 cm in dieter cordate (heart-shaped) in outline. Greyish-green, velvety or appearance.
Conophytum violaciflorum is a dwarf succulent that grows a dense clump. This was named for its purplish-violet flowers. In all forms, it is an easy and floriferous species that is allied to the Conophytum tantillum complex.
It is oblong to cylindrical in basal shape, wedged, and erectly positioned, shiny pale green or grey-green often with scattered tiny dark green spots. The lobes may have dark-green or maroon rims on their angular margins. Relics of old leaves are often stuck in the grooves among the succulent leaf bodies.
Conophytum wettsteinii is a dwarf groundcover species. Freely dividing and variably caespitose, with single or double bodies, or forming dense mats or cushions.