Faucaria is a genus of succulent subtropical plants of the family Aizoaceae, native to South Africa. The name comes from the Latin word "fauces", meaning "animal mouth".
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The Aizoaceae, or Ice Plant Family, is a large and diverse group mostly native to southern Africa. Like the Cactus Family, it contains a wealth of species with extreme adaptations for storing water and surviving in dry environments. Among the many genera sought out by collectors is Faucaria, popularly known as Tiger Jaws. This common name refers to the way the leaves emerge in pairs, with tiny but ferocious-looking teeth along the edges of their upper surfaces, suggestive of little open mouths ready to take a bite. Like most members of the family, these plants are small in stature, but they proliferate in time to make clumps.
Almost all the plants in Faucaria have yellow flowers, with the one exception being the white-flowered Faucaria candida. Aside from the flower color, F. candida is very similar to the variable Faucaria felina, and recent taxonomic treatments tend to regard it as merely a white-flowered form of that species. However, the white flowers are distinctive, and the only name we have to refer specifically to such populations is Faucaria candida. It comes from near Cradock, South Africa, about 200 km north of Port Elizabeth.
The thick succulent leaves of F. candida are about an inch to an inch and a half long (2.5 – 3.8 cm), with a smooth triangular upper surface which has a crenulate edge and a little tooth atop each bump. Each head has as many as 8 leaves, with new pairs arising in the middle and mature ones at the outside, and the heads are crowded together in a clump. The plants are bright green in color, sometimes with white teeth (or even flushed pink at the tips).
Like other plants in its genus, Faucaria candida is fall-flowering, with the flowers opening in the afternoon and closing at dusk. At the bud stage, or when not fully open, the flowers are often pink-tinged, but when fully open they are white. They are large and showy, about an inch and a half across or a little more (4 cm).
Although its native habitat is not in the winter-rainfall area, F. candida can be grown outdoors in our part of California provided it is given sharp drainage and occasional water during the summer months. It is often grown as a potted plant, and it also does well when treated this way.
|Family:||Aizoaceae (ay-zoh-AY-see-ee) (Info)|
|Genus:||Faucaria (fow-KAR-ee-uh) (Info)|
|Species:||tigrina (tig-REE-nuh) (Info)|
|Synonym:||Faucaria tigrina var. splendens|
|Synonym:||Faucaria tigrina f. splendens|
Drought-tolerant suitable for xeriscaping
Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)
Suitable for growing in containers
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From seed winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed sow indoors before last frost
From seed direct sow after last frost
From seed germinate in a damp paper towel
Allow pods to dry on plant break open to collect seeds
Allow seedheads to dry on plants remove and collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored
This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:
Manhattan Beach, California
On Nov 19, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:
I had about 6 'species (varieties?)' of Faucaria growing in the old cactus garden for about 9 years and they make excellent specimens for a small succulent garden. They slowely sucker growing in a circle larger and larger until they come up upon another plant (in my garden, this would be another Faucaria)- making a unique carpet of plant completely covering the ground. They look like little alligator jaws agape. Most have yellow flowers but some have whitish ones.
On Feb 27, 2003, DougC from Los Angeles, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:
PEST: Not susceptible to many pests, but watch for mealy bugs.
Lovely little plant, ours is in a small, shallow ceramic (unglazed inner)container. It has triangular,fleshy leaves (suculent like)
they are green with a profusion of white dots. The leaves have up to 10 (ten) teeth, which are slightly recurved. The leaves form a rosette. The flowers appear from the centre of the rosette and are 'buttercup yellow'. I have not attempted to propagate. There are "30 species of these clump-forming, stemless, perennial succulents from South Africa".(Botanica)
Origin and Habitat: Faucaria tigrina is narrow endemic at the edge of Grahamstown, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. Extent of occurrence less than 200 km², four known locations remain after many subpopulations declined due to urban expansion around Grahamstown. Subpopulations are small, fragmented and continue to decline.
Altitude range: 550 - 920 metres above sea level.
Habitat and ecology: This species grows in mountain renosterveld in Albany Thicket, Savanna on open sandstone patches in a dark clayish soil with a low pH (pH 4.7-5.7). The many white-coloured flecks on the often reddish leaves resemble the lichens and reddish rocks in its natural surroundings. Rainfall around 680 mm per annum (Grahamstown). This species continues to decline because of cultivation, overgrazing and urbanisation.
Description: Faucaria tigrina is a compact clump-forming succulent perennial, rosette, usually stemless (but can builds short woody stems with age). The species was discovered as early as 1790 (Bolus 1927), probably because of its accessibility. Faucaria tigrina is a compact, crowded and distinctly flecked plant having 9-10 teeth with long bristles on the short leaves.
Leaves: Thick, 30-40(-50) mm long, 15-20(-25) mm,broad, very crowded, pressed against each other, more or less erect, green to grey-green, turning to bluish purple, triangular to ovate-rhomboid in upper half lowest half of leaves square, sharply keeled at top and toothed. Margins and keel whitish. Teeth (5-)9-10(-12) along each edge, with soft translucent slightly recurved backwards bristles, making them look like open jaws. Epidermis slightly rough with a profusion of white dots upon close inspection and with a rounded interface, confluent into larger flecks, often arranged in curved lines towards keel, minute white dots absent.
Flowers: Numerous, silky yellow, up to 5 cm wide, attractive daisy like, appearing from the centre of the rosette. Petals 100-120, linear, acute, 1-1.25 mm wide. Stamens 250-300. Nectar glands brownish, surface often 3-ribbed.
Fruits: Bell-shaped 7-9.5 long, 8-10(-12) broad and (6-8-9 mm thick coming loose rather easily, top of fruit flattened to slightly spherical. Fruit stalk absent or 0.5-3.8 mm long, 3-4 mm broad and 0.9-1.6 mm thick.
Seeds: 1.15-1.5 long 1-1.25 mm broad.
Blooming season: Autumn to early winter (March—May). They need full sun to open, open around noon and close at night.
Note: Faucaria tigrina clumps more than the plants in the Faucaria felina group and has often a reddish tinge and a higher number of teeth (which are long and bristly). The more conspicuous spotting also separates this species from Faucaria felina, which has less erect leaves. However some populations of Faucaria felina subsp. britteniae at Hell's Poort, 35 km west of Grahamstown and near Fort Beaufort. look like F. tigrina because of the numerous large flecks on the leaves and the long bristles. Yet, the leaves of F. felina subsp. britteniae are larger, not pressed against each other and the number of teeth is reduced to 5 or 6. Forma splendens published by Jacobsen & Rowley in 1955. was recognised on the basis of its reddish leaves typical for some populations. F. tigrina 'Superba' is a superfluous synonym. used in seed catalogues to differentiate good plants and seed, reintroduced by Mrs Dudley Ryder from the usually inferior hybrids named F tigrina (Weber 1968).
They all share a rough upper surface. The shape of the leaf varies from long to short triangular. The name felina refers to the likeness of the leaves to the claws of a cat. The recurved leaf tubercles have very broad bases and look like cat's nails rather than teeth!
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Faucaria tigrina group
Notes: Faucaria tigrina is a variable taxon that now comprises many Faucaria’s form previously considered independent the species. The several species of this South African genus of succulents are so similar that many may be hybrids.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Heidrun E. K. Hartmann “Aizoaceae F – Z” Springer, 2002
2) James Cullen, Sabina G. Knees, H. Suzanne Cubey “The European Garden Flora Flowering Plants: A Manual for the Identification of Plants Cultivated in Europe, Both Out-of-Doors and Under Glass - Casuarinaceae to Aristolochiaceae” Cambridge University Press, 11/ago/2011
3) Hermann Jacobsen, Vera Higgins “Succulent Plants: Description, Cultivation and Uses of Succulent Plants, Other Than Cacti” Williams and Norgate, Limited, 1935
4) Jacobsen. “Handbook of succulent plants” 1328 (1960)
5) H. Herre “The genera of the Mesembryanthemaceae” Tafelberg-Uitgewers Beperk, 1971
6) L. E. Groen, L. J. G. van der Maesen “Revision of the genus Faucaria (Ruschioideae: Aizoaceae) in South Africa” Bothalia 29: 35-58, 1999.
7) Doreen Court “Succulent Flora of Southern Africa” CRC Press, 01 June 2000
8) Ernst Van Jaarsveld, Ben-Erik Van Wyk, Gideon Smith “Succulents of South Africa: A Guide to the Regional Diversity” Tafelberg, 2000
9) African Plants Database (version 3.4.0). Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques de la Ville de Genève and South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria, "Retrieved [8 November 2015]", from .
10) Victor, J.E. & Dold, A.P. 2007. Faucaria tigrina (Haw.) Schwantes. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2015.1. Accessed on 2015/11/09