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Gasteria pillansii var pillansii 1.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Xanthorrhoeaceae
Subfamily: Asphodeloideae
Genus: Gasteria

Ptyas Salisb.

Gasteria brachyphylla (Salm-Dyck) Van Jaarsv.

Gasteria is a genus of succulent plants, native to South Africa (and the far south-west corner of Namibia).[1]


The genus is named for its stomach-shaped flowers ("gaster" is Latin for "stomach"). Common names include ox-tongue, cow-tongue, lawyer's tongue and, occasionally, mother-in-law's tongue.[2]


Gasterias are recognisable from their thick, hard, succulent "tongue-shaped" leaves. Their inflorescence is also unique, with their curved, stomach-shaped flowers, which hang from inclined racemes.


Gasteria rawlinsonii showing the distinctive pendulous, "stomach-shaped" Gasteria flowers.
Gasteria batesiana

The species of this genus are mostly native to the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa, where the bulk of the species occur - especially in the small area between Grahamstown and Uniondale which enjoys rainfall throughout the year. However distribution of several species extends widely across the low-altitude coastal regions of the country, in an arched horseshoe shape across South Africa. At the one end of the genus's distribution, a species Gasteria pillansii extends into the far south-west corner of Namibia. At the other end, a species reaches the Lebombo mountains of Swaziland.


Gasteria is part of the family Xanthorrhoeaceae, subfamily Asphodeloideae. Closely related genera include Aloe and Haworthia, and the species of these genera are known to hybridise relatively easily with each other.[3]

Using morphology (especially flower structure), the genus has traditionally been divided into two sections, four series, and 23 species.

Recent phylogenetic studies[4] suggest that the genus is actually sub-divided into:


Gasteria species are grown in well-drained, sandy soils in light shade. The species can all be propagated by off-sets and cuttings (leaf cuttings can usually be rooted easily). They are also commonly propagated by seed. Germination usually occurs within 8 days but may take as long as one month depending on the species.[5][6]

Several hybrids with species in other related genera have been created in cultivation, such as between Gasteria and Aloe (×Gasteraloe), and between Gasteria and Haworthia (×Gasterhaworthia).

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  2. ^ Bailey, L.H.; Bailey, E.Z.; the staff of the Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium. 1976. Hortus third: A concise dictionary of plants cultivated in the United States and Canada. Macmillan, New York.
  3. ^ Stevens, P.F., Angiosperm Phylogeny Website: Asparagales: Asphodeloideae 
  4. ^ B. J. M. Zonneveld, E. J. van Jaarsveld: Taxonomic implications of genome size for all species of the genus Gasteria Duval (Aloaceae). 24 Feb 2005
  5. ^ Propagation of Gasterias - article
  6. ^ Gasteria