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Cotyledon orbiculata

Cotyledon orbiculata (*)

Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Ordo: Saxifragales

Familia: Crassulaceae
Subfamilia: Kalanchoideae
Genus: Cotyledon
Species: Cotyledon orbiculata
Varietates: C. o. var. dactylopsis – C. o. var. flanaganii – C. o. var. oblonga – C. o. var. spuria

Cotyledon orbiculata L., Sp. Pl. 429 1753.

Adromischus mucronatus (Lam.) Lem.
Cotyledon ambigua Salisb.
Cotyledon ausana Dinter
Cotyledon decussata Sims
Cotyledon decussata var. dielsii Poelln.
Cotyledon decussata var. flavida (Fourc.) Poelln.
Cotyledon dielsii Schlechter ex Poelln.
Cotyledon elata Haw.
Cotyledon engleri Berger & Dinter
Cotyledon flanaganii var. karroensis Schönl. & Bak. fil.
Cotyledon fourcadii Schönl. ex Poelln.
Cotyledon macrantha
Cotyledon mucronata Lam.
Cotyledon orbiculata var. ausana (Dinter) Jacobsen
Cotyledon orbiculata var. dinteri Jacobsen
Cotyledon orbiculata var. elata (Haw.) DC.
Cotyledon orbiculata var. engleri (Berger & Dinter) Dinter
Cotyledon orbiculata var. higginsiae Jacobsen
Cotyledon orbiculata var. oophylla Dinter
Cotyledon orbiculata var. ovata DC.
Cotyledon orbiculata var. ramosa (Haw.) DC.
Cotyledon orbiculata var. rotundifolia DC.
Cotyledon orbiculata var. viridis Dinter ex Range
Cotyledon ovata Haw.
Cotyledon paniculata L. fil.
Cotyledon papillaris Haw.
Cotyledon papillaris var. tricuspidata (Haw.) DC.
Cotyledon ramosa Haw.
Cotyledon ramosissima Mill.
Cotyledon tricuspidata Harv.
Cotyledon undulata var. mucronata (Lam.) Poelln.
Cotyledon ungulata Lam.
Sedum decussatum Kuntze
Sedum orbiculatum Kuntze


Cotyledon orbiculata Forsk. = Kalanchoe alternans (Vahl) Pers.

Native distribution areas:
Primary references

Linnaeus, C. 1753. Species plantarum, exhibentes plantas rite cognitas, ad genera relatas, cum differentiis specificis, nominibus trivialibus, synonymis selectis, locis natalibus, secundum systema sexuale digestas. Tomus I. Pp. [I–XII], 1–560. Impensis Laurentii Salvii, Holmiae [Stockholm]. BHL Reference page. : 429.


Hassler, M. 2019. Cotyledon orbiculata. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World In: Roskovh, Y., Abucay, L., Orrell, T., Nicolson, D., Bailly, N., Kirk, P., Bourgoin, T., DeWalt, R.E., Decock, W., De Wever, A., Nieukerken, E. van, Zarucchi, J. & Penev, L., eds. 2019. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2019 November 26. Reference page.
Govaerts, R. et al. 2019. Cotyledon orbiculata in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2019 November 26. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2019. Cotyledon orbiculata. Published online. Accessed: November 26 2019. 2019. Cotyledon orbiculata. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2019 November 26.
USDA, ARS, Germplasm Resources Information Network. Cotyledon orbiculata in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. Accessed: 07-Oct-06.

Vernacular names
Afrikaans: Beesbulk, Bergbessie, Honde-oorplakkie, Kanniedood, Kooltrie, Kouterie, Pêpêbos, Plakkie, Varkiesblaar, Varkoorplakkie
English: Pig's ears
Sesotho: Serelile (S)
isiXhosa: Ipewula
isiZulu: Intelezi, Ipewula

Cotyledon orbiculata, commonly known as pig's ear or round-leafed navel-wort, is a South African succulent plant belonging to the genus Cotyledon.


Cotyledon orbiculata is an extremely variable species that grows to approximately 1.3 m (4.3 ft) in height.[1] It has gray-green leaves that can be up to 13 by 7 cm (5.1 by 2.8 in) with a white powdery substance on them that helps reflect sunlight and conserve water.[2] The shape of the leaves was thought to have a resemblance to a pig's ear, thus the common name.[3]

The flowers, which appear in winter, are usually orange-red but yellow varieties also exist. The bell-shaped flowers are small, usually less than 3 cm (1.2 in) in length, and droop from the top of a 60 cm (24 in) tall stalk.[1] The tubular flower crown has no bulges and is 20 millimeters long and up to 9 millimeters in diameter. The bent back crown tips are orange, red or yellow and are 12 millimeters long. The stamens protrude 2 to 3 millimeters. The yellow anthers are elongated and 1.75 millimeters in diameter. The slightly transversely elongated nectar scales are dull and yellowish green and are 1.5 × 2 millimeters in size. The 10 stamens are attached to the base of the corolla (2 per petal), and the 5 carpels each have a style longer than the ovary.


Leaves (green variety)

Grey variety in cultivation

Varieties and cultivars

This diverse species includes a large number of varieties and cultivated forms, some of which may show a resemblance to Kalanchoe thyrsiflora.[4][5]

Recognised varieties include:

Cotyledon orbiculata var. flanaganii (Schönl. & Baker f.) Toelken ― with elongated leaves in whorls
Cotyledon orbiculata var. oblonga (Haw.) DC. ― defined by its red leaf-margins and 20–50 cm inflorescence
Cotyledon orbiculata var. spuria (L.) Toelken ― defined by having (2–)3–5 bract pairs on the stem of its inflorescence

Other forms include:

Cotyledon orbiculata var. dactylopsis ― small and proliferous plant with elongated, terete leaves
Cotyledon orbiculata var. engleri (= cultivar: "Viridis") ― leaves a deep and slightly glaucous green
Cotyledon orbiculata var. mucronata ― defined by its mucronate leaves
Cotyledon orbiculata var. oophylla Dinter (= cultivars: "Boegoeberg" and "Lizard Eggs") ― defined by its round, white, pruinose leaves
Cotyledon orbiculata var. undulata Haw. (= cultivar: "Silver Crown") ― defined by its wide, flat, round leaves with bent margin
Cotyledon orbiculata f. takbok ― leaves often with multiple lobes, becoming antler-like

Cotyledon orbiculata is a common garden plant, with many different varieties. The antler-like leaves of the takbok form can be seen on the left for example.

Var. engleri, with its deep glaucous-green leaves

Var. flanaganii often has its elongated leaves in whorls of three.

Var. oblonga, a cultivar known as "Grey Sticks"

Var. oophylla has round, white, pruinose leaves.

"Shireen" form

Var. spuria


Native to South Africa,[1] it is popular in gardens in many countries. In the wild, it grows naturally in rocky outcrops in grassy shrubland and the Karoo region. In New Zealand, it is considered an invasive plant and is listed on the National Pest Plant Accord.[6]

Cotyledon orbiculata has a number of medicinal uses. In South Africa, the fleshy part of the leaf is applied to warts and corns. Heated leaves are used as poultices for boils and other inflammations. Single leaves may be eaten as a vermifuge and the juice has been used to treat epilepsy.[2]

However, the leaves contain a bufanolide called cotyledontoxin, which is toxic to sheep, goats, horses, cattle, poultry, and dogs, causing a condition known as cotyledonosis.[7]


"Cotyledon orbiculata". University of Oklahoma Department of Botany & Microbiology. June 13, 2009. Retrieved 2010-04-19.
Harris, Shireen. "Cotyledon orbiculata". South Africa National Biodiversity Institute. Retrieved 2010-04-19.
Vandecasteele, Petra; Godard, Paul (2008). In Celebration of Fynbos. Struik. pp. 54–55. ISBN 978-1-77007-490-3.
Cotyledon orbiculata
H. R. Tölken (1985). Crassulaceae. In O. A. Leistner, Flora of southern Africa 14. Botanical Research Institute, Pretoria.
"National Pest Plant Accord" (PDF). Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-10-15. Retrieved 2010-04-19.
Wickens, G. E. (1998). Ecophysiology of economic plants in arid and semi-arid lands. Springer. p. 204. ISBN 3-540-52171-2.

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