Lampranthus aureus

(L.) N.E.Br.

Common name:
vygie (Afr.)

Fanta-orange Lampranthus aureus

One of the most colourful succulent plants is undoubtedly the Fanta-orange-coloured 'vygie', Lampranthus aureus. It's one of the 'must-have' plants for the succulent garden.

This vygie, Lampranthus aureus,(vygies also refer to other colourful plants in the family Aizoaceae) is a neatly rounded, erect, small shrub that grows up to about 400 x 500 mm. The leaves are paired, free or slightly fused at the base, dark green and grow to 50 mm. The most attractive aspect of the plant is its unbelievably bright orange flowers. The shiny orange flowers are borne singly or in clusters on short stalks, are 60 mm in diameter and appear from August. Yellow forms also occur. Flowers are followed by a woody fruit capsule that has five locules (locules are little compartments in which the seeds are borne).

Lampranthus aureus occurs in a broad band along the southwest and west coast of Western Cape from Vredenburg to Saldanha. The plants seem to have a preference for sandy, loamy soils and granite outcrops.

Derivation of name and historical aspects
The name is derived from the Greek words, lampros (bright) and anthos (flower), referring to the large showy flowers. The Lampranthus genus is one of the largest genera in the Aizoaceae family. The genus consists of 227 species and 13 varieties. Other related species are found along the coast of Namibia, Northern, Western and Eastern Cape and Kwazulu-Natal.

Growing amongst the rocksPlants are all pollinated by insects at midday when flowers are fully open. In the past these plants were known as midday plants. They are also referred to as 'municipal workers' as the flowers open at 9 am and close at 5 pm. Swollen leaves, fat with water, ensure the survival of the plant during long, hot and dry spells. Brightly coloured flowers are advertisements to pollinators for ensuring seed production. Another adaptation for survival is the abundance of seeds that are produced. The more seeds there are, the better the chances of germination and ultimately the survival of the species. These plants will only disperse their seeds once water has become available. Seeds are able to survive in the capsule for many, many months. When it rains, the capsule swells up and opens so that the splashing drops displace seeds onto the ground where they will germinate quickly. The plant does this so that precious seeds aren't wasted if there is not adequate water.

Uses and cultural aspects
There are no medicinal or traditional uses associated with these plants. They are however sought out for their use in the garden. Lampranthus aureus is cultivated extensively for the horticultural industry. The plants are very showy, tough and thus make fantastic water-wise specimens.

Growing Lampranthus aureus

Yellow form of L.aureus.These plants are best suited for winter rainfall areas where hot summers are experienced. The plants do not thrive in areas that are subject to prolonged periods of frost. They can withstand drought very well and do not need much care.

To enjoy the best results from plants one can use them either in small groups directly in the garden or in window boxes and small containers in sunny spots. Remember that these plants require sunny areas to flower at their best. A suggested garden layout is to mix this particular species with other related species in mixed or single colour groups. Other bright-coloured species are L. multiradiatus, L. hoerleinianus and L. reptans. Lampranthus affinis is also a good garden. Lampranthus aureus can also be used in rock gardens, on steep slopes or embankments as mass plantings.

Plants can be grown from seeds that are sown in summer or winter in river sand. Seeds are then kept in an enclosed area where they are moistened regularly. Cuttings are best rooted after fruiting in May.

Not many pests attack these plants. Occasionally, plants suffer from scale attack in which a systemic pesticide will help. Compost and bone meal will ensure and enhance healthy growth of plants.


  • Goldblatt, P. & Manning, J. 2000. Cape plants. A conspectus of the Cape flora of South Africa. Strelitzia 9. National Botanical Institute, Cape Town and Missouri Botanical Garden.
  • Smith, G.F., Van Jaarsveld, E., Hammer, S., Chesselet, P., Hartman, H., Burgoyne, P., Van Wyk, B-E. & Kurzweil, H. 1998. Mesembs of the world. Briza Publications, Pretoria.

Werner Voigt
Karoo Desert NBG
July 2003

To find out if SANBI has seed of this or other SA species, please email our seedroom.

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