Cotyledon barbeyi has variable leaves ranging from paddle-shaped yellow-green ones to erect, spindle-shaped or finger-like ones that may be yellow-green or blue-green in colour. The plants may reach 2 m in height and branch into spreading shrubs. The flowers are orange-red to pinkish red, pendulous and urn-shaped. These plants naturally grow in northern Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga, as well as in Swaziland and Mozambique.
Succulent plants vary much in the way they store water. They may carry a water supply for tomorrow in their leaves (like the plant in picture), or in the stems, roots or a basal caudex, according to their nature as per evolutionary development. Like this plant, a succulent often becomes an attractive gardening option when water becomes scarce. Waterwise gardeners or xeriscapers pay less for water as their selection of garden plants requires less and may still flourish in the dry seasons.
South African succulents are almost invariably not cacti, as there is only one indigenous cactus species in the country, viz. Rhipsalis baccifera subsp. mauritiana, growing in sub-tropical KwaZulu-Natal and northwards into Tanzania.