Bear’s Paw ’Shake’
Cotyledon tomentosa ssp. tomentosa
Cotyledon tomentosa Harv. is the correct and accepted name for this species of Cotyledon. It was first described by William Henry Harvey in Flora Capensis in 1862.
According to Plants of the World Online, there are 13 accepted species in the Cotyledon genus. The 2013 version of The Plant List said there were 12 accepted species plus 4 accepted infraspecific names, a total of 73 synonyms and 92 unresolved names. Although The Plant List is now unmaintained, I still refer to if for certain information. There is certain information I can find there that no other “plant list” offers that I know of.
I was given my Cotyledon tomentosa ‘Shake’ by the owner of Pleasant Acres Nursery in Leland, Mississippi in May 2012. The plant was amazing and did very well throughout the summer, but winter found its demise…
In 2013 I became acquainted with an expert of the Crassulaceae family. She told me this plant was a Cotyledon tomentosa subsp. tomentosa. She further said that the cultivar name ‘Shake’ was just an industry name, not a cultivar name, and should not be used. Well, she is an older lady and an expert. Now folks, calling Margrit Bischofberger an expert is a complete understatement… I sent her photos of all my plants that were in the Crassulaceae family and she corrected many names. Her amazing website is the International Crassulaceae Network. She is not young and my recent emails to her have gone unanswered. I am not sure if her website is still maintained.
I am not going to argue with any botanist, horticulturalist or expert about plant taxonomy because I am none of those. I am just a collector and blogger and that’s it. I do name and author research and hopefully what I share is correct.
SO, with all respect Mrs. Bischofberger, I apologize for using the name Cotyledon tomentosa ’Shake’. According to the 2013 version of The Plant List, the new Plants of the World Online by Kew, Llifle (Encyclopedia of Living Forms), and so on… Cotyledon tomentosa is currently the correct and accepted scientific name and C. tomentosa subsp. tomentosa is a synonym. When I look at photos of both they all look the same. I am not an expert, but I could never understand how a species could have a subspecies with the same name. Just saying… Bears Paw is a recognized common name and, no, ’Shake’ is not a registered cultivar name. It is, however, a recognized industry name and widely sold by that name.
It is somewhat strange, however, that THIS PAGE from the Royal Horticultural Society uses the name Cotyledon tomentosa subsp. tomentosa…
It is also strange that Dave’s Garden says Bear’s Paw is Cotyledon tomentosa ssp. ladismithiensis. While that is an accepted infraspecific name, it is NOT correct. The photos shown on Dave’s Garden are of Cotyledon tomentosa NOT Cotyledon tomentosa ssp. ladismithiensis. To see a correct photo of that infraspecific name, click HERE and HERE, There are many websites where the names are improperly applied or outdated. The leaves are not the same…
It is a shame that so many names have been changing after so many great men and women have given their lives to their field of study. It is very understandable that, after writing books and articles with certain names, they would be somewhat distraught when they when names change. Then their information is out of date and incorrect…
Cotyledon are summer dormant succulents which means they do most of their growing in the spring and fall of the year. They have marginal growth in the winter are dormant in the summer. I think during that time the roots regrow or something. During their growing period, they should be watered thoroughly only when the soil is dry. Water very sparingly during the cooler months because when the soil is cool and damp their roots will rot.
Growing some succulents in the house overwinter can be quite tricky, especially members of this family. If they are not given enough light, their leaves and stems will stretch out of shape. Strangely enough, I found that growing them in a cool basement with poor light is much better than trying to overwinter them upstairs where it is warm. Honestly, I love many members of the Crassulaceae family, but growing them in improper winter conditions is not worth it… Someday I will have a greenhouse or maybe try using grow lights over the winter.
If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you.