1. Family: Crassulaceae J.St.-Hil.
    1. Genus: Crassula L.
      1. Crassula coccinea L.

        There are around 200 species of Crassula, many of which are found in southern Africa. A number of these have been introduced to Europe and North America, primarily as plants for the conservatory or gardens in mild climates.


    Kew Species Profiles

    General Description
    Red crassula is a succulent plant with flat heads of striking, bright scarlet flowers.

    There are around 200 species of Crassula, many of which are found in southern Africa. A number of these have been introduced to Europe and North America, primarily as plants for the conservatory or gardens in mild climates.

    Crassula coccinea has been known in Britain since the early 18th century. The author (probably John Sims) of the text accompanying Sydenham Edwards’ plate of the plant in Curtis’s Botanical Magazine noted that ‘We have no doubt but that when this superb species of Crassula was first introduced from the Cape by Prof. Bradley, of Oxford, in 1714, it was regarded as a kind of Merveil [sic] de la Nature; even now that it is common, we scarcely know any succulent that is superior to it...’. Bradley seems to have been a dubious character, and although there is no record that he visited the Cape, he is known to have visited botanists and gardeners in Holland in 1714. It is almost certain that the plant arrived in England via this route.

    Species Profile

    Geography and distribution

    Crassula coccinea is found in South Africa, in the Cape region from Paarl to Bredasdorp and on the Cape Peninsula, at elevations of 800 m or higher.


    Crassula coccinea is a small succulent perennial, reaching up to 40 cm high. It has a few branching stems, along which overlapping pairs of flat, red-edged leaves are arranged. Older leaves turn brown and persist for a long time. From December–March, dense, flat-topped heads of red flowers are carried at the top of the stems. Each flower measures about 1 cm across. 

    Pollination is by butterflies, particularly the mountain pride butterfly, Meneris tulbaghia, which is unusual among butterflies in pollinating bright red flowers.


    Red crassula is cultivated as an ornamental. It is still widely traded and grown under the synonym Rochea coccinea.

    Millennium Seed Bank: Seed storage

    The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save plant life worldwide, focusing on plants under threat and those of most use in the future. Seeds are dried, packaged and stored at a sub-zero temperature in Kew's seed bank vault at Wakehurst.

    Description of seeds:Average 1,000 seed weight = 0.03 gNumber of seed collections stored in the Millennium Seed Bank:TwoGermination testing:95% germination on a 1% agar medium at 15°C, 8 hours light/16 hours dark; 90% germination on 1% agar at 20°C, 8 hours light/16 hours dark

    Marianne North and the red crassula

    The botanical artist Marianne North depicted Crassula coccinea in her painting ' Vegetation on the Hills near Grahamstown' that can be seen in the Marianne North Gallery.

    South Africa
    In rock crevices near the coast.
    Least Concern (LC) according to the Red List of South African Plants 2009, following IUCN Red List criteria.

    None known.



    Found In:

    Cape Provinces

    Introduced Into:

    New Zealand North, New Zealand South

    Common Names

    Red crassula

    Crassula coccinea L. appears in other Kew resources:

    First published in Sp. Pl.: 282 (1753)

    Accepted in:

    • [4] Govaerts, R. (1999) World Checklist of Seed Plants 3(1, 2a & 2b): 1-1532. MIM, Deurne.


    • [1] The Plant List (2010). Crassula coccinea.
    • [2] Raimondo, D. et al. (2009). Red List of South African Plants 2009. Strelitzia 25. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
    • [3] Goldblatt, P. & Manning, J. (2000). Cape Plants. A Conspectus of the Cape Flora of South Africa. Strelitzia 9. National Botanical Institute, Cape Town.
    • [5] Phillips, R. & Rix, M. (1997). Conservatory and Indoor Plants. Vol. 1. Pan Books, London.
    • [6] Egerton III, F.N. (1970). Richard Bradley’s illicit excursion into medical practice in 1714. Medical History 14: 53-62. (accessed 13 July 2011)
    • [7] Sims, J. (1800). Crassula coccinea. Curtis’s Botanical Magazine 14: t.495.


    International Plant Names Index
    The International Plant Names Index (2016). Published on the Internet http://www.ipni.org
    [A] © Copyright 2016 International Plant Names Index. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Kew Species Profiles
    Kew Species Profiles
    [B] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

    Kew Library Art and Archives
    [D] Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

    World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
    World Checklist of Selected Plant Families(2016). Published on the Internet http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    [E] See http://kew.org/about-kew/website-information/legal-notices/index.htm You may use data on these Terms and Conditions and on further condition that: The data is not used for commercial purposes; You may copy and retain data solely for scholarly, educational or research purposes; You may not publish our data, except for small extracts provided for illustrative purposes and duly acknowledged; You acknowledge the source of the data by the words "With the permission of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew" in a position which is reasonably prominent in view of your use of the data; Any other use of data or any other content from this website may only be made with our prior written agreement. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
    [F] © Copyright 2016 International Plant Names Index and World Checkist of Selected Plant Families. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0