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Lithops: Living rocks

The combination of a water store and low evaporation is one of the most important survival strategies for desert plants. Minimizing surface area is one way to reduce water loss from evaporation; another is for the plant to sink its body as far into the earth as possible.

The genus Lithops has followed these rules closely. These plants consist of a single pair of thick, almost fused leaves that act as a water storage device. They rarely grow to more than 5 centimeters in diameter and are rooted so deeply that they often do not even project above the ground. Thanks to their subdued colors and patterns, Lithops are hard to even recognize as a plant – or would you have easily guessed which one of these is a rock and which one a plant?

The members of the genus Lithops are rightly known as “living stones”.
In the autumn, Lithops produces very pretty white or bright yellow flowers. Don’t miss them!



Audio file download
Lithops: Living rocks (MP3, 398 KB)

Audio production and copyright: Soundgarden Audioguidance GmbH
Text: Dr. Ehrentraud Bayer, Botanischer Garten München-Nymphenburg