Introduction

G. armstrongiiAtelier Sakura @ Palo Alto, CA
G. armstrongii

What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.

Ralph Emerson

Gasteria is a genus of succulent plants endemic to South Africa. It belongs to family Asphodelaceae which includes succulent plants with leaves arranged in a rosette or remaining opposite, and with tubular flowers. Gasterias are at once distinguished from the related genera by their curved pendulous pedicels and belly-shaped, curved perianths, usually loosely arranged on the spreading racemens, and the genus is also named for such stomach-shaped flowers (“gaster” is Latin for “stomach”).

Gasterias come mainly from the eastern Cape, where the erratic rainfall pattern caused them to evolve as drought-resistant, shade-loving and shallow-rooted succulents. The strange aloe-like plants have an irresistible appeal for botanist and collectors in Europe since the late seventeenth century.