Ceropegia LinnÚ

 The name derives from the Greek words 'keros', a wax candle and 'pegnynai', assemble or unite; for the chandelier like flower structures of some of the species. Ceropegia has a wide distribution range being found in parts of Africa, Arabia, Asia,  northern Australia, and the Canary Islands.  The species from the Canary Islands are shrubby in nature with thickened upright stems.  The species from elsewhere, whether they have thickened stems or thin vines all tend to creep and/or twine.  They are all perennial herbs possessing leaves which range from short to long-lived, minute to large.   Roots may be fibrous, fleshy lateral or tuberous.  In cultivation they require a well drained compost and the tuberous rooted species are best grown similar to Brachystelmas with the tuber exposed to prevent rotting.  Tropical species require a minimum temperature of 15║C, whilst sub tropical species should be happy above 10║C in winter.  All will then benefit from watering sparingly in winter to prevent the roots drying out, with the exception of Ceropegia crassifolia which should be kept quite dry until new growth is seen in Spring.

Ceropegia africana ssp africana and Ceropegia africana ssp barklyi

As the name suggests, the tuberous rooted, Ceropegia africana was the first Ceropegia to be published from Africa buy Robert Brown in 1822. Sub species barklyi was originally published as Ceropegia barkleyi, but this species has recently been included in C. africana as ssp barklyi, reflecting the correct spelling of the name of  Sir Henry Barkly, Governor of Cape Town in 1877 after whom it is named. C. africana ssp africana can be found in both the Eastern and Western Cape Provinces, whilst C. africana ssp barklyi is only found in the Eastern Cape.

Ceropegia ampliata

This species with clustered fleshy roots can be found from the southern Cape Provinces up the west coast into, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and into the tropical and sub-tropical areas of Africa including Madagascar.  This is an easily cultivated twining greenhouse plant, bearing two and maybe three flushes of its attractive flowers per season. Clone 1 is from KwaZulu-Natal, whilst Clone 2 (

Ceropegia arabica var. superba

The sparsely branched twining stem of this species from the Yemen and Saudi Arabia can reach 2 m in length from its clustered, fusiform fleshy roots.  The single flowers are borne at intervals along the stem.  Benefits from a little extra warmth in winter.

Ceropegia armandii

From southern Madagascar, this creeping decumbent species is closely related to Ceropegia dimorpha.  Its stem elongates into a twining flowering vine. The species benefits from warmth and judicious watering. 

Ceropegia cancellata

Closely related to the C. africana - C. linearis alliance, and coming from the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, the dark brown flat tuber of this species can reach relatively large proportions.  The species name meaning latticed refers to the apical cage of the corolla.  The flowers are borne singly on the twining stem which bears heart shaped fleshy leaves.

Ceropegia carnosa

Found in Kenya, Swaziland and the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces of South Africa, this species with fusiform tuberous roots is of easy cultivation. The plant pictured is CM0537, collected at the Watersmeeting Nature Reserve in the Eastern Cape.

Ceropegia cimiciodora

The species name is from the fact that the flowers have a smell reminiscent of the bed bug Cimex lectularius. The species can be found in Swaziland and  the Northern and KwaZulu-Natal provinces of  South Africa. It is a scrambling stem succulent related to C. stapeliiformis and C. variegata. 

Ceropegia conrathii

The large flat topped tuber with a central depression bears a mass of dwarf crowded stems bearing inflorescences of one to six flowers all opening simultaneously.  This species from the Gauteng province of South Africa was originally found near a dynamite factory managed by a Paul Conrath after whom it is named.

Ceropegia crassifolia var. crassifolia

Originally discovered near King William's Town in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa this variable species with clustered fusiform fleshy roots and showy flowers can also be found in Namibia, Kenya, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Swaziland.  This species is closely allied with Ceropegia nilotica and Ceropegia stenantha .

Ceropegia cufodontii

With perennial twining stems from clustered fleshy fusiform roots, this species from Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, prefers a shady habitat. The plant pictured was grown from seed collected by Maria Dodds in Rumuruti, Kenya.

Ceropegia decidua ssp decidua

Ceropegia decidua ssp pretoriensis

Both of these tuberous rooted species are easily confused with Ceropegia occulta. Ceropegia decidua ssp decidua is found in both Swaziland and the Northern Province of South Africa whilst ssp pretoriensis is found only in the Gauteng Province. 

Ceropegia denticulata

This west coast species can be found in Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and KwaZulu-Natal.  The fleshy thickened cylindrical roots bear twining stems which die back annually.  The flowers which open successively have an unpleasant fruity odour. This is the sister species to Ceropegia nilotica from which it can be separated by the presence of the long vibratile hairs at the tip of the corolla lobes.  The plant pictured was grown from IAS seed collected by Maria Dodds at Rumuruti, Kenya in 2001.

Ceropegia dichotoma ssp. dichotoma

This, the most succulent of the Ceropegias forms an erect, basally branched shrub to  a metre high. It is a winter growing species and is found on the Canary Islands of Tenerife, La Palma and Hierro.

Ceropegia dimorpha

A very distinctive species from southern Madagascar, this species has a stout erect heavily tuberculate stem. The flowers are borne on terminal, much branched, thinner stem sections.

Ceropegia distincta

Originally described by N.E.Brown from material collected on the island of  Zanzibar in 1895, this vary variable species is aptly named.  Flowers are borne in succession along the semi twining scrambling stems, from fibrous roots.  It can also be found in wider Tanzania and Kenya.  Clone 1 was grown from IAS1205 seed in 2000, whilst Clone 2 was a cutting from Erwin Geiger.