Plant and Garden

Pigs Ear, Bear Paw, and Elk Horn can be Cotyledon Succulent Plants and not Animal Body Parts

Members of the genus Cotyledon are shrublets, generally succulent, with fleshly woody, brittle stems and persistent succulent leaves.

Cotyledon[kot-l-eed-n] is a genus of succulent plants in the Crassulaceae family. Mostly from Southern Africa, they also occur as far north as the Arabian peninsula. Growing on rocky grounds and cliff faces.

Not to be confused with a cotyledon [kɒt-ˈli-dən] which means a seed leaf, such as, with a Douglas Fir Tree.

Or with cotyledon [kä-te-ˈle-don] which is a lobule of the mammalian placenta.

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To add to the possible name confusion, until the 1960s there were about 150 species described as being in the genus Cotyledon, In 1978 Tölken separated 47 species of Tylecodon with seasonal, spirally-arranged leaves from Cotyledon with perennial leaves. The name Tylecodon is an anagram of Cotyledon.

In the past, Cotyledon has been a catch-all genus including species from Echeveria, Rosularia, Tylecodon, and Umbilicus. These species are now all grouped separately.

As taxonomic fashions change and with new insights from DNA analysis, it is possible that the scope of Cotyledon will change again. Some confusion over species validly included in Cotyledon still exists on plant labels and across the internet.

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Their name comes from the typical shape of a spoon of its leaves, from the Greek word kòtile (cavity) because of its leaves have a hollowed shape.

It has got the same root as the word “cotyledons”, used in botany to indicate the two halves of the same seed or legume.


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Cotyledons can be divided into two groups. One group consists of evergreen plants with a summer growing period.

The other group is made up of deciduous plants, splendidly magnificent with large, solid fleshy stems which grow during the winter, and sheds its leaves during the summer.

Cotyledon adscendens
Cotyledon barbeyi
Cotyledon campanulata
Cotyledon cuneata
Cotyledon eliseae
Cotyledon elongata
Cotyledon orbiculata
Cotyledon papillaris
Cotyledon pendens
Cotyledon tomentosa
Cotyledon velutina
Cotyledon woodii

Cotyledons are small fast-growing plants that require a free-draining gritty mix and plenty of sun.

They are tolerant of cool, frost-free conditions during the winter if kept dry. Some require pruning to maintain an attractive shape.

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The leaves grow as opposite.

Leaf pairs generally are oriented at 90 degrees to their preceding and following pairs, as is common in the family Crassulaceae.


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The flowers are pendulous and tubular, borne at the tips of stout, rather long peduncles. Petals united in a tube or urn that generally is longer than broad.

Their triangular tips more or less pointed and recurved with10 stamens arising from corolla near the base and projecting or nearly projecting from the corolla.

Each carpel contains many small (typically less than 1 milligram when ripe) globular, brown seeds. The multiplication of this plant can be done by cuttings, by seeds or by pollens.

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The pollen is probably the fastest and safest method. For the cuttings, it is recommended to use the period between May and June and use a stick fitted with at least 3-4 leaves.

Cotyledons should be kept in a sunny position. Follow general succulent watering procedures. Be careful of over-watering when Cotyledons have shed.

Most plants in the genus, and those that used to be included in the genus Cotyledon, are poisonous, even dangerously. Some have been implicated in stock losses among goats, pigs, and poultry.

However, many species have long been used in traditional medicine. They have been applied for many purposes, ranging from magic charms to removal of corns.

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