From late Winter to early Summer one can find this species in flower in southern Namibia and many parts of South Africa. It is an important pioneer on disturbed soil, e.g. roadsides, forming mats of up to a meter across. For that reason it is also a good ground cover in suitable climates.
The hairy stems make it usually easy to recognize this plant. The beautiful bladder cells on the leaves are best admired in back light.
It is easy to take this species for granted, even in spite of the cobwebby hairs it is decorated with.
The following is a quote from Gordon Rowley’s booklet ” Anacampseros, Avonia, Grahamia. A grower’s Handbook” :
“This attractive and distinctive species seeds itself freely around the glasshouse and has long been cherished or tolerated in collections of succulents. The abrupt tapering of the leaf to a spiny tip is its most distinctive feature”
This sounds to me like a nice example of damning with faint praise.
When one inspects the plants a bit closer, the beautiful, almost reptile-like surface texture of the leaves is revealed. I must confess that since I have discovered this characteristic, I look at these plants with renewed respect.
Together with the other members of the genus this is among the few stem succulents in the family. The short-lived leaves are provided at their base with a fringe of long hairs (cilia = lash).
The plants occur from Calvinia in the north to Ceres in the southwest and Willowmore in the southeast, usually as pioneers on dry flats and on roadsides.
The first picture was made in autumn (4 April 2007), the others in winter (early August to early September 2010).
Another peculiar name: both glottis and lingua mean tongue, phyllum = leaf and forme = yes, indeed. So, in other words: the tongue leaf with the tongue shape.
The plants occur in the Oudtshoorn-Calitzdorp area, where the rainfall is 100-200 mm per year. They usually grow under shrubs on loamy or sandy soil with some quartzite and flower in late autumn and winter (March-June).
Two months ago I found one specimen of an interesting miniature shrub on the road from Montagu to the southwest entrance of Anysberg Nature Reserve (see first picture). After some digging in the literature I found out that it was Ruschia nana (nana = dwarf). The combination of 6 rather than 5 calyx lobes and locules (compartments in the fruit) on the one hand and compact growth on the other, is apparently unusual.
When I had another look at the picture, it occurred to me that I had seen similar plants a few years before on the farm near Matjiesfontein. By road this is quite a distance, but as the crow flies it is not more than about 70 km.
The other two pictures give an impression of these plants (as it happens they were also taken in October). I am sure they belong to the same species.
In October and November the relatively big flowers (about 2.5 cm in diameter) appear in great and unexpected profusion.