Aloe acutissima var. acutissima

Densely branched bushes of this variety, up to a meter tall and to more than a meter in diameter, occur from Fianarantsoa in the central highlands of Madagascar to Tulear in the southwest and Beloha in the south; in the highlands they are locally abundant.
They grow in thin soil on granite, gneiss and limestone rocks, often in the shade of other bushes.
The plants are variable in the size of the stems and leaves as well as the flowers.
On average the leaves are 30 x 4 cm, grey-green with reddish tinge, without markings.
The inflorescence is to 50 cm long, undivided or with 2-4 branches; the flowers are coral-red with pale red tips.

Antimima solida

The first name that comes to mind on seeing a plant of this species is probably Argyroderma fissum (unless you are a real expert of course).
The two species share the same growth form as well as size and shape of the leaves; often they also grow near to each other. Fortunately the fruits are rather different and stay on the plants for a long time. (The Antimima has fruits with 5 locules, whereas in Argyroderma fruits there are at least 10 compartments).
The finger-shaped leaves are up to 3 cm long. The flowers come mostly in threes and appear in May-July; they are pinkish-purple and 1.8-2.5 cm in diameter.

In some places the species forms large mats on flats or gentle loamy slopes with an open cover of quartz pebbles. According to the literature, it occurs in the Vredendal-Vanrhynsdorp area, but last year I also found plants in the northern half of the Knersvlakte.

Huernia guttata subsp. guttata

In this subspecies the stems have 4 or 5 angles; they are 2 to 10 cm long and 1-1.5 cm thick, grey-green, sometimes with faint purple-red spots.
The striking flowers are 2-7.5 cm in diameter and appear in November-April.
Plants are found from Somerset East to near Willowmore, between Uniondale and Joubertina and also between Oudtshoorn and Calitzdorp, under bushes on stony slopes.
The pictures shown here were all taken in the latter area and represent the former subsp. calitzdorpensis  (the plant in the third picture was growing next to the road, hence the specks of dust).



Hoodia pilifera subsp. pilifera (part 1 of 2)

In the wild, this taxon is rare and endangered by both habitat degradation (as a result of overgrazing)  and harvesting (for medicinal purposes).
Plants are found in the Little Karoo from Montagu to near Uniondale and in the southern Great Karoo from Matjiesfontein to Gamkapoort and Klaarstroom; they usually grow inside bushes.
The plants have few to many stems (3-6 cm in diameter) and form shrubs up to 80 cm tall and 2 meter across.
Flowers mainly appear in the upper part of the stem and have a nasty smell; they are 1.6-2 cm across and pinkish brown to very dark purplish brown, with a raised annulus.

My good friend George Hattingh of Calitzdorp, with whom I have spent many wonderful hours in the field, has kindly given me permission to make use of his pictures as and when needed, for which I am very grateful.

Picture by George Hattingh



Glottiphyllum suave

These compact plants rarely have more than 3 branches, each usually with two leaf-pairs.
The leaves are opposite and have sharp margins; they are thickened below, but without a hump.
Suavis means fragrant, referring to the nicely scented flowers, which are about 3 cm in diameter and appear in April-May.
Occurring on quartz and/or shaly sandstone in the western Little Karoo and the Laingsburg area.
The plants are similar to G. linguiforme, but with thicker leaves.