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The Lifesaver Cactus (Huernia zebrina)

This plant has a unique coloration pattern. It has stripes like a zebra, hence its species name zebrina. The center of the plant looks like a Lifesaver candy in the middle; though to me, it looks kind of like a swollen lip. So what can we learn about this fascinating plant? Let's take a look.

Physical Description and Behavior

Zebrina is a small plant with spines. It only grows about 6 inches tall and about 6 inches wide, which makes it a good houseplant. Its "petals" are star-shaped and have yellow and crimson stripes on them, connected to a central crimson lifesaver candy looking structure in the middle called an annulus.

I could not find any information on why this flower looks so strange. But it could have something to do with trying to attract specific pollinators.

Despite it commonly being known as the Lifesaver Cactus, it is actually not a cactus at all. It is colloquially named this due to the spines that may appear all over the plant's body. Although it looks like a cactus in some ways, it is actually a succulent, related to plants such as the Milkweed.

Strong sunlight is not good for this succulent, and can actually scald it. So if it is getting too much sun, it will develop a reddish hue. This helps it to ward off a lot of the sunlight it gets, but it might be better to place it more in the shade.

Habitat and Location

While they may be found in some gardens all over the world, they originate from South Africa. You can find them growing on the bottom tip of the continent near the South Cape.

According to the Red List of South African Plants, it is considered to be of Least Concern. Probably due to its ease of growing in new environments.

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