Graptopetalum sp.

ghost plant


Graptopetalum sp.

Rose 1911

pronounced: grap-toh-PET-al-um species

(Crassulaceae — the stonecrop family)


common name: ghost plant

Graptopetalum is derived from two Greek words, γραπτος (graptos), marked as with letters, and πεταλον (petalon), a leaf, petal, referring to the marks on the petals of many species in the genus. The genus was erected in 1903 with the intention of handling certain “difficult to classify” plants that were at the time mostly included in Sedum. A distinct point of definition for the genus is that the stamens curve outwards and downwards between the petals shortly after the flower opens, when the stigmas become receptive. I believe that the plant pictured in flower, in the garden of a house in the Dunoon development on the beachfront at Picnic Bay, is either a cultivar or a subspecies of Graptopetalum paraguayense, or possibly a hybrid developed from it. The species in this genus range from low plants with rosetted leaves to branching shrubs and hanging vines, from tiny plants to rather large ones.

Graptopetalum paraguayense was originally thought to be native to Paraguay, having been found among cactus plants imported to New York in 1904, and only later determined to be from Mexico, although it has not been found in the wild there since then. A very similar plant, now known as G. paraguayense ssp. bernalense was discovered in the state of Tamaulipas in north-eastern Mexico, so the origins of G. paraguayense are very likely nearby. It is a hardy plant, very suitable for use as a ground cover, in hanging baskets or pots, or for spilling over walls. It is rather brittle, so it should be handled as little as possible, and not planted in areas with much traffic.

As well as the curving outwards of the stamens, the members of the genus have 5 or 6 petals and twice as many stamens, connate to the middle, radially spreading above.

Graptopetalum paraguayense is a colourful succulent perennial with 8 – 15 cm wide rosettes holding thick, triangular, pointed, flat leaves that range in colour from pale blue to light purple. The fleshy rosettes spread on stems, creating a low spreading colony up to 30 cm tall. The flowers are white, about 2 cm wide, and with small red specks. The plant pictured in the photographs has very similar flowers, but with black specks.



Photographs taken in Picnic Bay 2014
Page last updated 7th January 2019