Sea bed

Re-create the look of an ocean reef with succulent plants

Debra Lee Baldwin

Succulents that look like sea creatures

Star fish, sea urchins, and branching coral have their counterparts in the plant world. Dyckia marnier-lapostollei, for example, resembles a starfish, with its pointed, downward-curving leaves. Small globular cactus, and succulents that look like they're rippling in a current, are the best choices for seascapes. Pair them with shapely boulders. Other succulents that mimic undersea creatures:

• Columnar, crenellated Euphorbia polygona appears ready to snap up a passing fish, as does another sea-urchin look-alike, the Medusa head plant (E. flanaganii).

• When grown in clusters, baseball plant (E. obesa) suggests a sponge colony.

• The slender golden-orange branches of E. tirucalli ('Sticks on Fire'), ressemble coral tentacles.

• Slender, tubular leaves of Dudleya make a convincing sea anemone.

• The frilled edges of a hybrid Echeveria recall a jellyfish's undulating umbrella.

• Blue crested Myrtillocactus geometrizans is a coral look-alike.

INFO: Quail Botanical Gardens (9-5 daily; closed Jul 4; $8; 230 Quail Gardens Dr., Encinitas, CA; or 760/436-3060) The succulent seascape is adjacent to the parking lot, on the southwest side of the property, between the administrative offices and Children's Garden.

Two gardens smaller but similar to the undersea planting at Quail Botanical Gardens are at Sea World (500 Sea World Drive, San Diego) near the sky ride entrance and the Sea Lion and Otter stadium. Hours vary seasonally. More info: 800/257-4268;

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