Pig’s Ear Cotelydon

Cotyledon orbiculata

The Pig’s Ear Cotelydon is an indigenous South African succulent plant that is loved by gardeners for its easy cultivation, frugal water requirements, interesting leaves and beautiful flowers. Its common name is derived from the shape of its grey-green leaves. It occurs throughout South Africa, but it grows best in rocky ground in the karoo, grassland and fynbos regions.

Pig’s Ear plants grow to 1.5m in height and the clusters of beautiful bell-shaped flowers, attached to stalks up to 60cm tall, are carried during the dry season – winter in areas receiving summer rainfall and inversely for the parts receiving winter and year-round rainfall. These flowers are rich in nectar and attract pollinators ranging from bees and butterflies to birds.

In traditional medicine the leaves are used to treat toothache, earache, boils, intestinal parasites and corns and warts.

17 thoughts on “Pig’s Ear Cotelydon

  1. sustainabilitea

    I wonder whether they’d grow here. I appreciated the chance to see the sunbird again. It also makes me think of the saying “In a pig’s ear” (an expression of disbelief) and the fact that people eat real pigs’ ears, something that sounds much less appealing to me than this plant. I see I’ve wandered far afield here, so I’ll just say Happy Sunday (what’s left of it.)

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      While writing this piece I also wondered about our fascination with pigs ears, Janet! Locally, both in Afrikaans and English, several plants have similar colloquial names because some or other part of their anatomy looks like it belongs on a pig. I doubt I’ll gnaw on a pig’s ear though…

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  2. Ally

    Very interesting. It has a lot of uses medicinally. I struggle to identify all the different trees and shrubs – thanks for the interesting and helpful post 👌🏻

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      South Africa is so rich in floral diversity, Ally, that I don’t think any of us will ever be able to identify, or even know of, every species found here. But it is fascinating to learn as much as we can about as many as we can!

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  3. Anne

    Another fine opportunity to show off those marvellous sunbirds! We have a similar cotelydon growing in our garden which sports deep pink flowers – it grows with no help from me at all and the sunbirds love it.

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