The more I research and study plants, the more I find myself attracted to the beauty of the unusual and esoterica.  In my search, I’ve found these beautiful Lithops!

In the drier areas of Southern Africa, a genus of succulent plants has evolved to resemble the surrounding stones and pebbles of its native habitat in order to avoid being eaten by thirsty animals.  These odd and beautiful “Living Stones” or Lithops can survive on the tiniest amount of water.

Lithops can be found in beautiful clusters and… as stones are different colors, so are Lithops. The diverse hues and patterns are truly remarkable.  The leaves of Lithops are various shades of green, cream, grey, and brown, patterned with darker spots, dots, and red lines. The beautiful bumps, ridges and striations on top disguise the plants in their dry, rocky habitat.  In addition to using mimicry for protection, the thick skin on top of the plant keeps most insects at bay.

Living Stones have evolved to grow with most of their bodies embedded in the ground.  This reduces the potential for water loss.  It also reduces the ability of the plant to take in carbon dioxide.  Therefore, Lithops grow very slowly and remain very small (1.5” at largest).

Luckily for me, the evolutionary marvel of Living Stones provides me with a chance to create unusual and amazing smaller terrariums.  I think a hand blown biomorphic shape would complement them perfectly.  Although a very careful and seasonally specific watering regimen is necessary (as the plants need a period of dormancy) I think they’re well worth it!

Upcoming post… The Growth Cycle of Lithops.


  1. I have tried with the lithops but I think they don't like enclosed spaces- In their natural environment they have air flow over them and I am thinking that is one of the reasons they imploded in my succulent terrarium. Let me know if you have any better luck. I think I saw some in Paula Hayes' terrariums so it must be possible...

  2. Exactly. That's why I have decided to use a terrarium with a large opening for adequate air circulation.

  3. Where can I purchase these babies..can u send me a link

  4. Can someone send me a link for these babies without crazy shipping costlol

  5. I've purchased them in New York Citys plant district. Have you looked at DIY stores such as Home Depot or Lowe's?


All images and content copyright Jeffrey Schneider of JAMES Modern Terrariums 2009.