An In-Depth Guide to Sansevieria Pinguicula: The Walking Sansevieria

Sansevieria pinguicula, commonly known as the walking sansevieria, is a fascinating succulent plant that belongs to the Dracaena genus.

With its unique growth habit and striking foliage, this plant has captured the attention of plant enthusiasts around the world.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the characteristics, cultivation, and propagation of Sansevieria pinguicula, providing you with all the information you need to successfully grow and enjoy this remarkable plant.

1. Introduction

Sansevieria pinguicula, also known as the walking sansevieria, is a xerophytic CAM succulent native to the Bura area of Kenya, near Garissa.

This plant is best known for its unique growth habit, which sets it apart from most other species in the Sansevieria genus.

Unlike its relatives that grow from underground rhizomes, Sansevieria pinguicula produces aerial stolons that terminate in new plantlets. These plantlets then develop stilt-like roots, giving the impression that the plant is walking away from its parent.

The specific epithet “pinguicula” is derived from the Latin word “pinguis,” meaning “fat,” which refers to the shape of the leaves. The leaves of Sansevieria pinguicula are blue-green in color and covered in a thick waxy cuticle.

They have the deepest stomata among all former Sansevieria species. The leaves are arranged in a rosette and have a lunate cross-section. Each leaf can reach a length of 12-30 cm and is tipped with a single sharp spine.

The underside of the leaves is smooth when water is plentiful but develops deep longitudinal grooves in drier conditions.

2. Characteristics


Sansevieria pinguicula has a short, erect habit that resembles a dwarf agave. Its most distinctive feature is its ability to produce aerial stolons that give rise to new plantlets.

These plantlets develop stilt-like roots that extend downward to the ground, creating the illusion of the plant walking away from its parent. This unique growth habit makes Sansevieria pinguicula a captivating addition to any plant collection.


The foliage of Sansevieria pinguicula is a striking feature of this plant. The leaves are covered in a thick waxy cuticle, which gives them a glossy appearance. They are lunate in cross-section, with a wide channel running the full length of each leaf.

The margins of the leaves are reddish-brown and edged with tough, papery white cuticle. The leaves can grow to a length of 12-30 cm and have a thickness of 2.8-3.5 cm. Each leaf is tipped with a single sharp spine.

One interesting adaptation of the leaves is their ability to survive in arid conditions. When water is plentiful, the underside of each leaf remains smooth.

However, in drier conditions, deep longitudinal grooves develop on the underside as the plant draws upon the water stored in its leaves. This adaptation allows Sansevieria pinguicula to thrive in one of the most arid regions of Kenya.


The defining characteristic of Sansevieria pinguicula is its thick stilt-like roots. Each rosette of the plant produces several of these roots, which elevate the plant several inches off the ground.

These roots are covered in a thick brown cuticle. While fine roots are responsible for nutrient and moisture absorption, the stilt-like roots play a crucial role in providing support and stability to the plant.

During the dry season, the fine roots of Sansevieria pinguicula die, and the plant enters a period of dormancy. However, the thick succulent roots survive, and the plant resumes growth once the wet season arrives and the roots regrow.


Sansevieria pinguicula produces flowers in clusters of 5-6 on an erect branched panicle that can reach a length of 15-32 cm. The flower bracts are small, brownish, and bottle-shaped, with white anthers and stamens.

Fertilized flowers give rise to globular berries, although very few of these fruits mature to produce seeds.

The flower spike of Sansevieria pinguicula develops from the apical meristem, and once it blooms, the rosette will no longer grow. However, the rosette itself does not die after flowering.

Instead, it produces many stolons bearing young plantlets, perpetuating the growth and expansion of the plant.

3. Cultivation

Sansevieria pinguicula is a slow-growing plant that requires specific conditions to thrive. While it may be challenging to find in cultivation, the rewards of successfully growing this unique plant make the effort worthwhile.

In this section, we will discuss the key factors to consider when cultivating Sansevieria pinguicula.

Soil and Water

Like most xerophytic plants, Sansevieria pinguicula thrives in porous, well-drained soil. Excessive watering can lead to root rot, so it is crucial to allow the soil to dry out between waterings.

Many growers prefer a coarse potting mix that combines inorganic and organic ingredients to improve drainage and moisture retention.

Common components of such a mix include gravel, perlite, vermiculite, decomposed granite, bark chips, and coconut coir or husks.

It is important to note that Sansevieria pinguicula is a slow-growing plant, and its water requirements should be adjusted accordingly.

During the wet season, when the plant is actively growing, more frequent watering may be necessary. However, during the dry season or periods of dormancy, watering should be reduced to prevent over-drying.


Sansevieria pinguicula thrives in warm temperatures and can be sensitive to cold. Temperatures below 7 °C, combined with wet soil, can be fatal for this plant.

However, it can tolerate near-freezing temperatures if the soil is dry. For optimal growth, provide daytime temperatures between 25-35 °C and cooler night temperatures between 10-20 °C.


Sansevieria pinguicula is a versatile plant when it comes to light conditions. It can survive in a wide range, from direct outdoor sunlight to deep shade indoors.

However, under low light conditions, the leaves may become etiolated, resulting in longer and thinner leaves with a darker green coloration.

To promote healthy growth and vibrant foliage, it is recommended to provide bright light for 12-16 hours a day. In higher latitudes, inducing dormancy by reducing watering during the winter can mimic the plant’s natural growth cycle.

4. Propagation

Sansevieria pinguicula can be propagated through division or leaf cutting. Both methods have their advantages and are commonly employed by growers to expand their collections or share plants with fellow enthusiasts.


Propagation by division involves removing and rooting the plantlets that develop at the end of each stolon. It is crucial to ensure that the plantlet has developed stilt roots to a length of at least 3 cm before removing it.

This ensures that the plantlet has sufficient energy and water reserves to produce roots and survive. Once the stilt roots have reached the desired length, the stolon can be cut, and the new plant can be potted in slightly moist porous soil.

Division is the preferred method for propagating most specimens of Sansevieria pinguicula, including variegated ones. However, it is important to note that leaf cuttings may not preserve the variegation.

Leaf Cutting

Leaf cutting is a useful propagation method, especially when rosettes have already flowered and stopped growing. Whole leaves can be cut from the rosette and allowed to dry for several days.

Once the cut end has dried, the leaf can be inserted cut-side down into moist porous potting medium to encourage root development.

Over time, the leaf will produce roots and a stolon, which will bear a new plantlet at its tip. Leaf cutting is particularly advantageous for generating variegated specimens due to the volume of leaves that can be rooted simultaneously.

5. Conclusion

Sansevieria pinguicula, the walking sansevieria, is a remarkable plant with unique characteristics and a captivating growth habit. Its blue-green foliage, thick stilt-like roots, and striking flowers make it a true standout in any plant collection. While it may be challenging to find and cultivate, the rewards of successfully growing Sansevieria pinguicula are well worth the effort.

By providing the right conditions, including well-drained soil, appropriate watering, suitable temperature, and adequate light, you can enjoy the beauty and charm of this extraordinary plant. Whether you choose to propagate it through division or leaf cutting, you can expand your collection and share the joy of growing Sansevieria pinguicula with fellow plant enthusiasts.

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