Cotyledon orbiculata “Chalk Finger”

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Cotyledon orbiculata “Chalk Finger”

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Cotyledon orbiculata is also known as the Chalk Finger Aloe, no doubt due to its long finger-shaped leaves covered with a white chalk dusting. Cotyledon orbiculata’s velvety soft blue-green leaves spread slowly to form a low shrub or ground cover. In spring, Cotyledon sends up flower spikes which are topped with very pretty orange-red bell shaped flowers that are very attractive to hummingbirds.

Cotyledon orbiculata is very drought-tolerant once established, though it likes some water during its growing season in spring. This plant is a best watered from below to avoid washing off the attractive white, chalky dust which is actually a waxy protective leaf coating that helps in water retention.

Cotyledon orbiculata is an ideal plant for rock gardens, and also grows well in containers.

The plants themselves are poisonous to humans and domestic animals, especially sheep and goats, and the meat of animals killed by cotyledonosis remains toxic even after cooking. Poisoning may be acute or chronic, the latter due to the cumulative effect of the toxin.

Horticultural Data

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Names and Synonyms: Cotyledon orbiculata var. oblonga ‘Flavida’, Cotyledon teretifolia, Hort., C. ‘Grey Sticks’, Cotyledon orbiculata var. oblonga
Common Names: Finger Aloe, Grey Sticks, Purple Chalk Fingers, Pig’s Ear
Family: Crassulaceae
Origin: South Africa and Swaziland where it is found growing in coastal bluffs and dunes, or in rock crevices in exposed situations of slopes often in low treeless vegetation among grasses
Size Label: 1 Gallon
Height: 1-2′
Width: 3-4′
Cold Tolerance: 20 to 25°F, -6.7 to -3.9°C
Heat Tolerance: Very heat tolerant
Light Requirement: Full sun to light shade
Water needs: Very drought tolerant but some water during the growing season in spring is beneficial. Note that plants are best watered from below to avoid washing off the attractive white, waxy protective leaf coating.
Maintenance: Remove spent flower stalks if desired.
Uses: Excellent massed in rock, cactus and succulent gardens or as a low to medium height xeriscape ground cover. Also works well in containers.
Propagation: From seed but also easy to increase by cuttings which root freely. It is also possible to plant the leaves in good, sandy soil where they will take root.
Problems: Prone to root rot in poor draining soils
Research Links:
http://www.llifle.com/Encyclopedia/SUCCULENTS/Family/Crassulaceae/1651/Cotyledon_orbiculata_var._oblonga
http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/192985/
http://smgrowers.com/products/plants/plantdisplay.asp?plant_id=456

Shipping & Availability

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There is a minimum purchase of any 4 plants for online orders. All plants shipped bare root. Other sizes may be available for pick up from our growing grounds in Fallbrook, CA. For more information, give us a call at 760-990-4762.
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