Succulent tree with green flower like clusters.

by Heidi
(Jerusalem, Israel)

The leaves of this succulent look like echeveria, but may not be. The green florette whorls are atop woody, scaly stems. This plant has lost most of its leaves over the past year or so. For a long time it had little white specks all over the leaves, but those are mostly gone. There were teeny ants crawling on it, but those mostly went away after I put ant powder on the floor near it. Can you tell me what the name of this succulent is, and give me any recommendations for reviving it?


Hi Heidi, this looks like one of my favorite plants, Aeonium. They are extremely drought tolerant, and are similar to Echeveria, but with a whole set of their own specific requirements.

They originate in the Canary Islands and Tenerife, which is on the west coast of Africa - you can guess at their preferred conditions - bright and hot temperatures in the summer, and they also have the need for a summer dormancy, just to make it more complicated. They will go dormant when the nights reach a certain temperature, which is what you should watch for, and hold back on the watering. In the fall, as weather cools off, they'll resume growing again.

It sounds as though your plant had aphids. The small dried up cases are the cast off skins of the growing aphids - they are most likely farmed by the ants for the honeydew. Getting rid of the ants is the first step, I would also keep a close eye on the plant for aphids as well. Keep in mind that they are so tiny and get deep into the growing heart of the plant, so you'll have to get some kind of spray (I use insecticidal soap, as this doesn't harm anything else) but keep in mind that their life cycle is to reproduce every 23 hours - this means that if you spray at the same time every day, you'll be constantly missing their most vulnerable stage, as the nymphs are just hatching out.

Hope this helps,

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Aug 26, 2012
Can it be saved?
by: Heidi

Thanks for your speedy response, Jackie. I love your site, and I love how much you love succulents!

It looks to me like this plant is dying. If you look in the pictures i sent you will see that there are some rows of dried up brownish leaves under the green ones. This is new. Previously the green leaves dropped of, but they didn't turn brown in the fasion.

Do you think it can be saved? The ants seem to be mostly gone. I didn't understand what you said about the casings. Do you mean that the tiny dots on the leaves are the aphids' casings?

Should I keep this in direct sunlight, or just in a bright area? How often should it be watered?

Many thanks,


Hi Heidi, thanks for the nice comments! Aeonium are an odd creature, and this is typical of how they grow - the new growth continues to emerge from the top, and the older leaves undergo senescence, or die off. That's how it ends up with these long 'legs'.

If you cut off (behead) it, and re-root the top rosette, this is pretty much how you will usually see them for sale, as just a low rosette. Eventually, one or more of the long stems with a rosette on top will elongate and bloom, and then that rosette will die.

Yes, I think that's entirely possible that the tiny dots are the aphids casings. If you can see with a high powered magnifying glass, sometimes you can see more detail.

I would keep it in a bright area - I am not familiar with your conditions, and sometimes these plants don't actually like brilliant hot sunshine, especially in the afternoon, and they can get sunburned.

Water when dry, about once a week, depending how dry your air is. Don't tease - give a good soaking, using rainwater if you have it. Never use water that has gone through a water softening unit. It's preferable to use distilled water if that's the only other choice.

Hope this gives you enough detail - don't hesitate to ask for more.

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