Crassula ovata

Common Names: Pink joy; Afrikaans: Beestebul; Sotho Thlakeni; Xhosa: umxhalagube 

While not indigenous to the KZN Midlands, Crassula is flowering in gardens right now.  It occurs naturally in the valley thicket biome and on rocky hillsides, but is commonly grown in containers all over the country.

A compact shrub with short stubby branches and glossy, succulent leaves often tinged red on older plants.  During winter, the bush is covered with compact heads of pale pink star-shaped flowers with a sweet fragrance. The flowers attract bees, wasps, flies, beetles, butterflies and ants.

Crassulas have a special way of reducing water loss from their leaves without limiting their ability to photosynthesise, known as Crassulacean Acid Metabolism or CAM. Most plants take in CO2 during daylight through pores in their leaves and lose water at the same time through these open pores. In Crassula, the pores are closed during the day but open at night when the CO2 taken in is stored in the form of organic crassulacean acids. During the day, these acids are broken down and the CO2 released is re-used in the photosynthetic process. In this way they lose much less water yet can photosyntesise normally during daylight hours. During extremely dry periods they won't even open their pores at night, and will re-cycle the CO2 within the cells. They don't grow at all but the cells will be kept healthy - this is known as CAM-idling. (Reference:

Crassula is an exceptionally rewarding plant to have in your garden.

Click on any of the links below to see another Dargle wildflower