Faucaria tigrina (Haw.) Schwantes is the correct and accepted scientific name for Tiger Jaws. The genus and species were named and described as such by Martin Heinrich Gustav Schwantes in Zeitschrift für Sukkulentenkunde (Berlin) in 1926. It was first named and described as Mesembryanthemum tigrinum by Adrian Hardy Haworth in Observations on the Genus Mesembryanthemum, in two parts in 1795.
Plants of the World Oline lists 8 species in the Faucaria genus (as of 11-7-22 when this page was last updated). It is a member of the plant family Aizoaceae with 120 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made by POWO.
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I was very fortunate to come across this plant at Lowe’s in June 2014. It flowered after a while but I didn’t get to take a photo. It was yellow, similar to flowers of the Mesembryanthemum, which were HUGE compared to the size of the plant. They are a clump-forming plant, but will also trail on stems with age.
Faucaria tigrina is found only within the Albany Thicket of the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. There are only four remaining subpopulations left in the wild due to urban development and overgrazing. It is listed as endangered on the Red List of South African Plants. The first documented discovery of Faucaria tigrina was during an expedition in 1789 by Francis Masson, who was sent to the Cape by the King of England to collect plants for Kew Royal Botanical Gardens. The specimens of F. tigrina were sent to Adrian Haworth, a gardener at Kew, who recognized them as a new species. The genus name comes from the Latin word faux meaning jaw and tigrina for tiger. As I am updating this page on 12-9-20, there are eight species in the genus, all occurring within the Eastern and Western Cape provinces of South Africa.
The “teeth” are an adaptation of the plant to help collect water vapor from the air and direct it down to the plant’s roots.
I gave up most of my potted plants in the late summer of 2014 and I had to start over. Luckily, I found another Faucaria tigrina on April 23, 2017, when I was plant shopping. Well, it didn’t look as good as the first one, but it will grow.
Origin: South Africa
Zones: 9a-11b (20-50 ° F)
Size: Up to 6”… Hmmm…
Light: Sun to part shade
Soil: Very fast draining. 2 parts potting soil amended with an additional1 part perlite and 1 part chicken grit. I started using a 50/50 mixture of potting soil and pumice with favorable results.
Water: Normal watering during the growing period, very little if any in the winter
Concerns: Overwatering in the winter
Well, GEEZ! The crickets have been chewing on the succulents again!
Cooler evening temps at night mean the plants will need to be moved inside for the winter soon.
I decided it was time to bring the plants inside for the winter on October 17. I took all the plants to the basement before taking the cactus and succulents upstairs. Many potted plants remain in the basement overwinter where they rest comfortably. They get a little light and the temps stay around 65 degrees.
The pots and plants were cleaned and inspected before I bought them in. Once inside, I measured them and decided where to put them upstairs. The Faucaria tigrina measured 1 1/2″ tall x 3″ wide. It is still in the pot I brought it home in but still doesn’t need a larger one. I didn’t notice at the time, but something else was going on with this plant…
I put the Tiger Jaws on the kitchen windowsill with several other cacti and the Kalanchoe luciae. It is easy to get busy doing this and that and not notice the plants on the windowsill even though I walk by several times a day. Then one day I noticed the Tiger Jaws had a bud… Getting to this point seemed to take forever!
SSSLLLOOOOWWWLLLYYY opening up just a little more every day…
Yep, there is a second bud…
Faucaria tigrina is not hard to grow as long as you follow a few basic rules. Soil, water, light, and temperature are of course the basic needs of any plant. Succulents need a fast-draining mix. Some sites recommend this and that recipe with some ingredients I can’t find locally. Miracle Grow Cactus and Palm mix still has a lot of peat and not much different than their regular potting mix. I have found Schultz Potting soil to have less large chunks of bark to throw out. I mix 1 part with 2 parts of chicken grit with 2 parts perlite. Many cactus and succulent growers are recommending using pumice instead of perlite now. Some even say use a “peatless” mix which I have never heard of… I must admit, my recipe is simple and it works well for a while as long as the pots get regular watering when outside. After I bring them inside and withhold water, the mix gets very hard. That is NOT good so I need to change my formula. A good porous mix is not only essential for drainage, but also for oxygen for the roots. DO NOT use sand in your mix as it will fill in needed spaces for air.
Light in the winter can also be tricky. They need as much light as possible, especially in warm rooms, or they can stretch. This plant isn’t supposed to have as much trouble with that as many succulents (such as Echeveria-GEEZ!). When you move them back outside, they need to be gradually introduced to brighter light. That is easy because I put them behind the shed under the elm tree.
Water in the warmer months is easy. Water thoroughly as with the other plants but let them dry between watering. They get plenty when it rains and as long as the pots drain fast, there is no problem. Then when the rain stops and the temps get warm, water them when they get dry, preferably in the late afternoon after the sun has passed over them and they are in the shade… I would never recommend watering cactus and succulents in the sun or even in the morning before the sun gets to them… Plants need to be dry when they are in the sun. During the winter you need to not to water your succulents unless they are shriveling and screaming. Then give them just a little even though you might think they need to soak. That is NOT a good idea in the winter. Some growers prefer to just mist them instead of watering the soil. I have done this and it seems to work pretty well.
Now, I have rambled on. I keep thinking of more to say when sometimes I can’t think of anything else. I will continue adding more photos as time goes on and hopefully my Faucaria tigrina makes it through the winter. I just have to remember the rules and try to avoid too much water during the winter months. I almost already broke that rule…
I hope you found this page useful. I am not an expert by any means and have included a few links below for better advice and further reading. If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. please click on the “like” below if you read this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂