Plant profile: Dyckia "Naked Lady"

Dyckia “Naked Lady”

Latin name: Dyckia “Naked Lady” (genus: “DYKE-ee-ah”)
Common name: Dyckia
Originally from: Arid and high-altitude regions of Brazil and the central part of South America.
Blooms: Orange flowers are held above the foliage in spring.
Light: Full sun to part shade.
Water: This xeric plant needs no extra water in San Francisco.
Height x width: 24″x 24″
Zones: 9a-12
Where to find in P. Garden: We have two in the brights bed, near the steps.


Dykias are wonderfully tough plants. They look like some kind of starfish, with leaf edges that curl under, covered in backwards-facing spines. They need very little water and seem almost indestructible. They grow wonderfully in a pot, but in ground they like rocky, sunny areas and have a natural tendency to clump which leads to large groups of plants.  However, if weeds start to grow near the base and pop up between the leaves, watch out while weeding – those spines will hook your hands worse than any Agave and you might live to regret it.

Top: “Naked Lady” Bottom
left: a regular spiny Dyckia

They’re in the bromeliad family – just like pineapples. But the genus is one of the most ancient in that family. Named after the Prussian botanist, botanical artist and horticulturist Prince and Earl Joseph Franz Maria Anton Hubert Ignatz Fürst und Altgraf zu Salm-Reifferscheidt-Dyck  (1773–1861). So if you’re in any confusion about pronouncing the genus name, just think: it could have been so much worse…

According to San Marcos Growers “This plant was discovered by Vivienne Doney (1904 – 1988) at her Monrovia succulent nursery. The name Naked Lady was suggest to her by Aloe hybridizer John Bleck during a visit to her nursery with Robert Foster in the mid to late 1960s. It began showing up in catalogs with this name as early as 1978. There has been speculation that this plant is a hybrid between Dyckia encholirioides and D. brevifolia.  It has also been called “Nude Lady”.”

No teeth here!

“Naked Lady” grows in clusters with individual plants reaching 1 foot tall and 1- 2 feet wide with bright green plastic-looking leaves that curve backwards quite gracefully end in a sharp tip. And unlike any other Dyckia this plant has absolutely no spines along the leaf edges. In spring plants grown with plenty of light produce tall wands of bright orange flowers. You can also plant in bright shade or morning sun – you’ll get the best leaf color that way, but don’t expect many flowers.

We got our “Naked Ladies” from Mat of Farallon Gardens in early 2020 – let’s see how they grow!

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