Plant and Garden

Tiger Jaw (Faucaria tigrina) Facts and Care

Tiger Jaw (Faucaria tigrina)  also known as  Shark’s Jaw, is a small, succulent, clump-forming perennial up to 6 inches (15 cm) tall. The leaves are thick, triangular, light green (turning purplish in strong sunshine). This bizarre plant up to 2 inches (5 cm) long.

On the edges of the leaves, there are upright, soft, white, up to 10 teeth in opposite pairs that look like an animal’s mouth. These teeth (spines) are harmless and have another purpose rather than defense. These teeth collect moisture for the inner part of the plant to take water down to the roots.

Each plant produces a rosette of up to approximately 10 leaves and they’re clump-forming, naturally. The speckled patterned leaves are rough to the touch.

The Faucaria Tigrina grows between rocks in its native Eastern Cape province (South Africa). This sub-tropical climate also has cooler periods that makes it easier for growers in temperate regions to mimic their natural habitat.

Huge Blooms!

Faucarias are mostly spring and fall growers. The Tiger Jaw yields bright yellow petals. Blooming from fall to early winter.

These flowers grow to two inches in diameter, they require at least 3 hours or more of direct sun to bloom. The flowers open around midday and close in the late afternoon. They often don’t open if the weather is cloudy, or if they are in the shade. The flower can color ranges from yellow to white and even pink I have read.

Remember This Is An African Plant

It Has Evolved To Survive In Difficult Conditions

A thorough watering is needed when the top of the soil is becoming somewhat dry to the touch. During winter cut watering down and let the soil dry out much more. A sure way to kill this plant is to overwater it during the winter.

When they lack water, like many other Mesembryanthemums, the stems die and some of the rosettes are not connected to the roots by any living tissue.

If given a little shade these succulents will do just fine even with the extreme heat. Yet, they do stop growing then and need water every few days.

Warning! Never leave the plant standingin water.

Common Problems

  • Sudden wilting and leaves becoming pale in color: This is likely to be caused when a grower overwaters during winter or even during spring when temperatures change dramatically. The leaves can also turn brown. The leaves affected must be removed to prevent the whole plant from becoming diseased. It is worth spraying the plant with a fungicide after removing the leaves in case you have pest damage (this can also be the cause of wilting and pale leaves).
  • Leaves become mushy: Sorry to say but this could be the end of this plant. The plant has been overwatered (possibly in the wrong type of soil) and leaves have become affected. Try to remove as much of the affected plant as possible then keep the plant out of a pot for a couple of days to dry out. Repot in slightly moist soil that drains well…and does not water until you see new growth.


One method is to remove pups (offsets) by hand that is attached to the parent plant. It is especially helpful if you find roots attached because they will begin growing quickly. If there are no roots, allow the plant to sit out for a couple of days,  allowing the wound to begin to heal then place in the moist soil.

After planting offsets wait to see a bit of new growth before watering again and keep the plant away from direct sunlight until this new growth has appeared. This plant can also be propagated with seeds and for the germination process to begin you will temperatures to be between 70°F/21°C – 80°F/26°C (not always easy and successful for the average grower).

The Tiger Jaw (Faucaria tigrina) is a slow grower. Repot this plant every two years or when the current pot becomes too small. Only move to a pot slightly bigger and use a shallow container because of the small root system.

Also, make sure the pot has decent drainage holes. A cactus potting mix will do the trick and already has the essential nutrients within the soil needed.

Your own mix will need to be a non-peat based compost, one part coarse sand – 2 parts soil.

Let us know your ideas and comments below!

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