In our previous post, we delved into the “parental” uncertainty that’s part of the history of Echeveria ‘Perle von Nurnberg’, a very beautiful and quite popular hybrid. This time, we have another rosette-style succulent, Echeveria ‘FO-42’, for which there have been questions regarding what it is exactly and where it fits within the genus Echeveria.

‘FO-42’ refers to Mexican naturalist Felipe Otero (its discoverer) and the accession number — the number given to collected plant material in order of acquisition. You may also see it referred to as Echeveria setosa ‘FO-42’. At Altman Plants, we recognize its setosa-like qualities, but we generally wait for a plant to be formally described (and scientifically accepted) before we refer to it by that name.

As the plant description on our wholesale succulent shop says, “This particular form of Echeveria setosa has not yet been formally described, as it has not yet been established that this is a form of a species, and of which species, and that it is not a hybrid. At the time that this plant is formally described, it will be named. … Flowers are the distinctive “candy corn” flowers of the Echeveria setosa complex; bright yellow and reddish-orange bicolors.”

Yes, from the appearance of the flower, it does seem to be a form of E. setosa, which is a species that can be quite variable. And the hairiness! E. setosa var. ciliata has rounded leaves and fine velvet texture, whereas E. setosa var. setosa has pointed leaves with hairs that are longer and more bristle-like. Then there has always been conjecture over the many assumed forms, such as deminuta and rundelii.

The International Crassulaceae Network website notes,via British succulent expert Roy Mottram, that Otero gave the same accession number for E. setosa var. deminuta and E. setosa var. minor, suggesting that these “three varieties in fact might belong to only one very variable species.” Mottram reports that all of these variants can occur from the same batch of seedlings.

If they all have the same number, it is possible Otero discovered them all the same day and did not want to give them separate numbers until he knew how many forms or varieties he really had. If Mottram has had all three forms occur from the same seed batch, then it is possible that they are the same but very variable within the same form and vary possibly due to hybridization over the years within the colony, or that some of the material that he used to generate this seed was itself a hybrid of two forms of E. setosa ‘FO-42’. Under certain circumstances, a seedling that is genetically different from the parent can so closely resemble the parent visually that it can be mistaken for the parent, in which case all three forms might manifest, and possibly others as well (go, recessive genes!).

Whatever you call it, the blue foliage color, hairy texture and candy corn flowers make ‘FO-42’ a winner on a windowsill or patio, or in a rock garden. Look for it at shopaltmanplants.com (retail) or the Cactus Shop (wholesale).