Tylecodon schaeferianus (Fairy Tale Plant)

Tylecodon schaeferianus (Fairy Tale Plant)

Scientific Name

Tylecodon schaeferianus (Dinter) H. Tölken


Adromischus hoerleinianus, Adromischus keilhackii, Adromischus schaeferianus, Adromischus schaeferianus var. keilhackii, Cotyledon hoerleiniana, Cotyledon hoerleiniana var. schaeferi, Cotyledon schaeferi, Cotyledon schaeferiana, Cotyledon sinus-alexandri, Tylecodon aridimontanus

Scientific Classification

Family: Crassulaceae
Genus: Tylecodon


This species is native to South Africa (Nothern Cape) and southwestern Namibia.


Tylecodon schaeferianus is a small, highly branched succulent that often forms tufted mounds, up to 2.8 inches (7 cm) tall and up to 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter, of gnarled stems and tubers. Leaves are small, green, egg-shaped, up to 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) long, and up to 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) in diameter. Flowers are pink or white and appear in late summer after it loses its leaves.

The specific epithet "schaeferianus" honors Dr. Fritz Schäfer, a doctor, and botanist in German South-West Africa or present-day Namibia.

How to Grow and Care for Tylecodon schaeferianus

Soil: Well-draining soil mix is the key to healthy Tylecodon. Poor drainage and overwatering most commonly cause root rot in both indoor and outdoor plants.

Light: Tylecodons can survive direct sunlight exposure without any problems, but they will grow beautifully when in shadow.

Hardiness: Tylecodon schaeferianus can withstand temperatures as low as 30 to 50 °F (-1.1 to 10 °C), USDA hardiness zones 10a to 11b.

Watering: As winter is the growing season, Tylecodons require careful watering during the winter until the spring. Get the soil wet and then wait until it is dry before watering again. In the summer, reduce watering to once per month.

Fertilizing: Use liquid fertilizer for cacti and other succulents during the winter months.

Repotting: You do not need to repot these plants often. You can do it when you see that the container becomes too small or shallow.

Propagation: Tylecodons can be cultivated either by seed or by cuttings.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Tylecodon.

Toxicity of Tylecodon schaeferianus

Tylecodon species are adapted to avoid animal predation being poisonous. Keep them away from children, pets, and livestock.


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Tylecodon is a genus of around 46 species of small shrubby plants from South Africa and Namibia, separated from Cotyledon in 1978. Tylecodons range from an inch to over 6 feet in height. Their deciduous succulent leaves arranged in a spiral manner, are produced during the Winter. As this is the growing season, the plants require careful watering during the Winter until the Spring when water should be withdrawn. Flowers are produced after the leaves have been shed in the Spring or Summer although in cultivation the leaves may persist for longer if the plants are watered. My Tylocodons flower freely despite being watered for longer than they should be. They are not hardy but tolerate a cool winter.

The caudiciform habit of many species appeals to many collectors. The thick stems of Tylecodon paniculata (Afrikaans: botterboom) and some other species have attractively peeling bark. In other species the basal part of the deciduous leaves remain on the stem as phyllopodia producing a tuberculate appearance. Many species can be propagated from stem cuttings.

Most species are poisonous, with cardiotoxic and cumulatively neurotoxic Bufadienolides, and must be kept away from animals. Krimpsiekte ("shrinking disease," cotyledonosis) is an economically important disease of livestock caused by consumption of Tylecodons, Cotyledons and related plants. Some Tylecodons are grubbed out by South African farmers to protect livestock and are therefore endangered in their habitat.

Tylecodon atropurpureus Bruyns 1989
The small caudex produces ovate, leaves with a pubescent surface during the Winter growing season. The inflorescence consists of long, thin, branching, hairy stems bearing clusters of small tubular greenish-yellow flowers with yellow insides and purple petal tips.

Tylecodon buchholzianus (Schuldt & P. Stephan) Toelken 1978
Syn. Cotyledon bucholziana Schuldt & Stephan 1937
This dwarf shrub has a swollen caudex with frequently-branching photosynthetic stems. Cylindrical upward-curving leaves with pointed ends are produced in the Spring but are not really necessary for the plant to grow. Small groups of pink flowers on a long peduncle are produced in early Spring.

Tylecodon cacalioides Tölken 1978
This small shrub has thick, knobbly stems branching towards their top and forming a dense clump. The thick yellowish branches have peeling bark and during the growing season, grey-green lanceolate leaves curving upwards and with a slight groove on the upper surface. The long flowering stem carries a cluster of tubular, sulphur-yellow flowers with spreading petal tips.

Native to the Western Cape.

Tylecodon grandiflorus (Burman f.) H. Tolken1978 (Rooisuikerblom)
Syn. Cotyledon grandiflora Burman f. 1768
A shrubby succulent growing up to 2 ft tall with a tuberculate stem. The slightly pubescent leaves are deciduous. The inflorescence is a cluster of relatively large tubular orange flowers with 5 petal lobes.

Tylecodon paniculatus Tölken 1978 (Botterboom)
This robust shrub has a thick main trunk, branching freely near the top. The smooth yellow-brown bark peels away in patches to reveal green tissues. During the Winter growing season, green ovate leaves are produced around the tips of the branches. The inflorescence, usually produced during the Summer, is a long, branching, reddish stem bearing orange to red tubular flowers with a hairy outer surface.

Tylecodon pearsonii Tölken 1978 Syn. Cotyledon luteosquamata von Poellnitz 1939
This dwarf pachycaul shrub has greyish stems, patterned with phyllopodia and bearing a cluster of long blue-green 1-3 inch lanceolate leaves around the stem tips. The upper leaf surface is grooved and the underside is rounded. The inflorescence is a cluster of somewhat pendulous green to light brown bells with a pubescent outer surface. The tips of the petals curve outwards.

Above: Tylecodon racemosus Tölken 1978
This small succulent shrub has fleshy slightly pubescent, deciduous leaves with a longitudinal groove along their upper surface.

Native to a small region of the Northern Cape of South Africa into Namibia where it grows among rocks and clefts in rock faces.

Above: Tylecodon reticulatus Tölken 1978
During the Winter growing season, this dwarf pachycaul shrub has shiny, greenish-brown stems bearing green to yellowish-green 1-2 inch lanceolate leaves, slightly grooved on their upper surface.

In the scorchingly-hot sun of their habitat, Tylecodon reticulatus is more compact than in cultivation. Habitat plants are covered with a mass of persistent old flower stems which provide light shade. Most growers remove old flower stems from their plants, producing a different appearance.

Native to Namibia and the South African Cape.

Tylecodon schaeferianus Tölken 1978
This dwarf, highly branching plant makes a clump of interwoven, thin gray-green stems up to 4 in tall, arising from a tuberous root. The small (one quarter to half inch), obovate green leaves near to the tips of the branches have a prominent groove on their upper surface. Short flower stems are produced at the tips of the branches and carry one or two small, tubular greenish flowers with large, recurved white to pale pink petal tips.

Native to Namibia and the Northern Cape.

Below: Tylecodon wallichii Tölken 1978
This low-growing shrub has a single greyish stem which branches a few times in its upper portion. The stem retains many phyllopodia, producing a spiky appearance. The inflorescence is a cluster of tubular greenish-yellow flowers on a long stem. The outer surfaces of the flowers are slightly hairy, the petal tips recurved and stamens exserted.

How to Grow Fairy Tale Eggplants

If you are wondering how to grow Fairy Tale eggplants, you can sow the seeds indoors a few months before the last spring frost. Keep the soil moist and warm, around 75 degrees. Seedlings emerge in two to three weeks and must be hardened off before transplanting to the garden.

When you start growing Fairy Tale eggplant, you’ll need to pick a sunny site that offers rich, organic soil. Don’t plant in a plot where you grew tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, or other eggplants the year before.

Set the eggplant Fairy Tale plants about 3 feet (.9 meters) apart. Transplant the seedling into an ample hole at the same depth as it grew in the container. Press the soil into place and water thoroughly.

Growing eggplant Fairy Tale in a container is also a good option. How to grow Fairy Tale eggplants in containers? Select a pot at least 2 feet (61 cm.) wide and deep. Don’t fill it with garden soil, but rather potting mix. Care for as you would in the garden but keep in mind that container grown plants typically require more watering than those planted in ground.

Tylecodon Species

Family: Crassulaceae (krass-yoo-LAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Tylecodon (ty-lee-KOD-on) (Info)
Species: schaeferanus
Synonym:Adromischus schaeferianus
Synonym:Cotyledon schaeferiana
Synonym:Tylecodon aridimontanus


Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:


Foliage Color:




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)

Where to Grow:

Can be grown as an annual


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

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Seed Collecting:


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Gardeners' Notes:

On Aug 30, 2008, DougC from Los Angeles, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

Info provided in book "Cotyledon and Tylecodon" by Ernst van Jaarwveld and Daryl Koutnik.

Water sparingly during winter only.
Soil medium: Sandy
Habitat: Karoo at Diaz point Luderitz, Southern Namibia

On Sep 19, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Miniature Namibian plant with oval pale green succulent leaves- toxic so careful handling leaves