Carrion Plant, Red Dragon Flower
Huernia schneideriana A. Berger is the correct scientific name for this plant. It was named and described by Alwin Berger in Monatsschrift für Kakteenkunde (Berlin) in 1913.
The genus, Huernia R.Br. was named and described by Robert Brown in Memoirs of the Wernerian Natural History Society (Edinburgh) in 1809.
As of 11-13-22 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online still lists 77 species in the genus. It is a member of the plant family Apocynaceae with 369 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.
My first Huernia schneideriana was given to me by the owner of Wagler’s Greenhouse in 2014. She had no idea what it was and someone had given her a start. I posted the plant on the first Belmont Rooster Blog and one of my followers, Kate of talltalesfromchiconia, said it was a Carrion Plant. So, I did research on that name and found out there were MANY genera and species of Carrion Plant that all looked the same until they flowered. So, I had to wait until mine flowered to find out what species. Believe me, there are some very AWESOME flowers in this group of plants. Some get HUGE and are very colorful. I could hardly wait until mine flowered and it seemed like an eternity!
THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING.
Unfortunately, before my first plant could flower, I gave up most of my potted plants. I went back to Wagler’s in 2015 and picked up a few plants including my second Huernia schneideriana. Remember, I STILL didn’t know the name because I was WAITING for flowers. Needless to say, the second pot was much smaller than the first one.
It certainly wasted no time growing. One website I read says they do the majority of their growing during the autumn months. Hmmm… What is that dangling down on the bottom right? HOLY CRAP! IT’S A BUD!!! I was hoping for a jaw-dropping experience of a lifetime but what followed was much, much less impressive. It took a while for it to even open up. I kept waiting for the bud to get bigger.
Although this flower did provide a positive ID, it was very small and maroon with a dark center.
The flower was so small I had to use a magnifying glass to get a good photo. Over time my disappointment went away and I was very glad to have such an awesome plant. Even though the flowers are pretty small, they always bring a smile to my face.
Well, at least I did find out this plant is positively a Huernia schneideriana. It is the only one in the genus, or even of all the Carrion Plants in any genus, that have small maroon flowers. No mistaking it for any other.
Species in the Huernia genus are native to Eastern and Southern Africa. Huernia schneideriana is native to Tanzania. The genus Huernia was named in honor of Justin Heurnius (1587–1652) a Dutch missionary who is reported to have been the first collector of South African Cape plants.
It’s funny how the flowers are toward the base of the plant’s stems…
The buds look really weird…
According to phylogenetic studies, the genus is shown to be monophyletic, and most closely related to the Stapelia, Hoodia, Orbea, Piaranthus, and Taveresia genera.
Huernia schneideriana was once thought to be a natural hybrid of Huernia verekeri and Huernia aspera but some recognized it as a legitimate species. Huernia schneideriana flowers look nothing like either one.
The Huernia schneideriana did very well inside over the winter, but I think I put it outside to early in the spring…
You can definitely tell in this photo it was scarred by cold temps at some point. At least I think that is what happened.
It was forgiving and went through an impressive growth spurt toward the end of the summer.
Zones: USDA Zones 9a-11 (20-40° F).
Size: Individual stems grow who knows how long.
*Light: Light to part shade is preferable outside but likes bright light inside.
**Soil: Fast-draining potting mix if grown inside.
***Water: Mine get regular watering when outside but not much during the winter.
Propagation: The stems easily take root.
*The Huernia schneideriana is NOT a difficult plant to grow. It doesn’t like full sun so I keep it against the wall on a couple of milk crates on the front porch during the summer. In the winter, I keep it on a plant shelf with most of the succulents in front of a south-facing window in a cool bedroom.
**I don’t think the Huernia schneideriana is that particular about its potting soil as long as it is very well-draining. Mr. Wagler just grows hers in a commercial potting mix like she does with all her plants. She foliar feeds on a regular basis. I used 2 parts Miracle Grow (or Schultz) Potting soil with 1 part additional pumice and 1 part chicken grit for many years. I read where succulent and cactus enthusiasts preferred using pumice over perlite, so I switched to using a 50/50 mix of Miracle Grow and pumice in 2018 and have had favorable results. You can get pumice online from General Pumice and they offer three sizes. You can buy smaller quantities on Ebay.
***I usually water the succulents on the front porch once a week while outside from May through the first week or second week of October (unless I get busy with other things and neglect the potted plants). They usually like a good soaking. In fact, I read where some people grow them in hanging baskets and give them an abundance of water so their stems will grow even longer. While inside during the winter, I water this plant on occasion, maybe once a month or so, but very lightly. They would be fine without water all winter. They flower the most in late summer through fall, but usually stop shortly after I move them inside. After that, they need a rest period with no additional water for a month or so. Like I said, no water during the winter months would be fine.
I might also add they are somewhat sensitive to cold temperatures, especially if they are put outside in the spring while evening temperatures are still fairly cool. In the fall, they don’t seem to mind cooler evening temperatures right up until the forecast calls for an “F”.
During the winter in 2018, it was resting under the plant table in my bedroom. The window is close to the floor, so the plants under the table get plenty of light.
Once warmer temperatures permitted I moved all the potted plants back outside.
I moved the plant tables and most of the potted plants to the front porch on July 4. The Japanese Beetle invasion ruined the environment where they had been under a Chinese Elm tree. Not to mention all the beetle poop, dead beetles, and dead leaves filling the pots. As always, the Huernia schneideriana took the move in stride and continued to be as happy as usual.
The Huernia schneideriana flowers off and on throughout the year. They are small and barely noticeable unlike most of the other species in the genus…
It seems to have been going through another growth spurt and needs to be put in a larger pot.
Repotting the Huernia schneideriana…
The Huernia schneideriana has been needing a new pot for a while, so I decided to give it one on September 13.
This plant seems to grow most of the year, but there are certain times it sends up a lot of new offsets.
While the pot isn’t that root-bound, the top of the pot was getting somewhat cramped up. Now, you can divide the plant and have several pots, or just put the whole thing in a new pot. I usually just transfer the whole thing because I don’t need a lot of pots of the same plant. You have to be careful or it will fall apart
One of the stems had gotten quite long.
Even though the flowers are very small, they are still a welcome sight.
Now the Huernia schneideriana is in a larger pot.
As evening temps started cooling down and I had to move the plants inside for the winter on October 10 (2018). Just thought I would take one last photo while the plants were still outside.
At last the potted plants are back outside for 2019! It grew over the winter so I decided to put it on an old milk crate next to the wall on the front porch. Two things it doesn’t like are really cold temperatures and full sun.
I had to move the potted plants inside for the winter on October 11 because an “F” was in the forecast. I always take photos of all the plants and measure the cactus and some of the succulents.
Hmmm… To say the Huernia schneideriana (Dragon flower, Carrion Plant) has been growing would be an understatement.
It is LOADED with flowers!
The flowers usually grow from the lower parts of the stem but…
These appear to be growing on the outside of the plant. That is because they are growing from a branch… The flowers are supposed to smell really bad which is where one of the common names comes from. They are so small who could tell.
I moved the potted plants inside for the winter on October 11, 2019, because an “F” was in the forecast. I always take photos of the actus and succulents as I bring them and take measurements of most of them.
I had to move the potted plants inside for the winter on October 15, 2020 because an “F” was in the forecast. As always, I took photographs and measurements. The Huernia schneideriana is still growing and looking great.
As usual, it is LOADED with flowers and has been all summer. I didn’t take many plant photos during the summer of 2020 because I was fairly busy. Hopefully, I can do better in 2021.
The Huernia schneideriana continues to do well and has been blooming all summer.
I will continue adding more photos and information as time passes by. I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. You can click on the links below for further reading.
Hmmm… I didn’t take any photos of this plant in 2022… It is still alive and well.
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on the “Like” below if you have visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂
Great info! Very simple! Your site was better for me to get specific instructions for the care of my Huernia schneideriana. Thank you!
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Hello! The Huernia schneideriana is growing a lot of new plants right now. I would like to purchase a few other species that grow larger flowers. I did order Stapelia gigantea a few months ago and it is doing well. This group of plants seems easy to care for as companions. I am glad you enjoyed the information. Thanks for the comment.
Amazing that you have kept this blog for so many years and we can see it’s progression. You are certainly dedicated to this plant! I have one and I am curious – have you ever gotten seeds after the plant flowers? What do they look like? I think it would be fun, and interesting, to grow from seed. Please post pictures if you have any. TIA
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Hello TIA! It is a great plant and so easy to grow. I have not seen any fruit or seed likely because they are possibly pollinated by specific species of flies. It is possible that specific species of flies pollinate specific species of flowers. Since these plants are from South Africa… It is possible I could try to hand pollinate them as an experiment. 🙂 They are very easily propagated from stem cuttings. I am very glad to hear you have Huernia schneideriana. Thanks for the comment!
I’m very curious as to whether or not you have noticed how long the bloomed flower lasts. I recently found out that I had this red dragon flower and it was only the sudden flower that made me start researching. (My Dad had one for years and I’ve NEVER seen flowers on his. Haha.) I took a tiny nub and 3″ inch nub from his plant and now it has grown tremendously and bloomed.
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Hello Jessica! I really don’t know how long the flowers last because I never paid any attention. I think they last for a while and perhaps I should experiment. It blooms profusely when it does have flowers during the summer. It is quite a plant and I am glad to hear you are experiencing it. I wonder why your dad’s hasn’t bloomed? Take care and thanks for the comment!
Thanks for responding 🤠 My little guy was on a top shelf where I couldn’t see the bottom of the pot. I just noticed a bloom this weekend while checking for new growth. Aaaand now it’s closed up, so I was just curious if you had any experience with the flower’s lifespan. I was super excited to see a beautiful little flower. It has a few more buds waiting for me to enjoy. Btw, my Dad’s is super neglected with hardly any soil and not sure how it’s still alive. He’s had it for longer than I’ve been alive. So it must love him or something haha. All of his plants are thrive on neglect kinds
I can imagine how big your dad’s plant must be. Repotting them when they get HUGE can be a challenge for sure. As long as it it still alive it must be happy. After I moved my plants inside for the winter mine has stopped blooming and the flowers have fallen off. I am glad to hear yours has more buds! It must be happy and likes you, too.