In her book “Namaqualand in flower” (1972), Sima Eliovson referred to this species as follows:
“Quite the most outstanding Pelargonium in Namaqualand, this has thick clusters of brilliant cerise-purple flowers that grow beside the brightest annuals and can be spotted from afar. They generally lie scattered in little clearings among orange daisies in the fields around Springbok amd Kamieskroon, where they are plentiful.”
Charles Craib in his beautiful and interesting book “Geophytic Pelargoniums” (2001), calls the species “one of South Africa’s most spectacular flowering plants.”
The plants are tuberous geophytes occurring in a narrow strip along South Africa’s west coast, from near the northern part of the Richtersveld to the Nardouw flats in the south.
Although the summers are very hot here, in winter it may be freezing cold.
The rainfall varies between 150 and 300 mm per year, mainly in winter.
When in flower, the plants are 20 to 30 cm tall. The flowers appear from August to October, usually with 20-40 (sometimes as many as 60) together in a large cluster on a single stalk. They show a wide range of colours, from red and pinkish purple to mauve, pale lilac and even nearly white.
After our trip to Madagascar in June this year, my wife and I decided to make a return trip later in the year.
As a result of this, coming Saturday we will depart on a 3-week trip to the country again, this time to the south. The last time we were there was 19 years ago, so it will be interesting to see what things look like now.
The trip will also give me an opportunity to thoroughly test the new travel tripod I bought a while ago. It has behaved well on shorter trips, but this trip will be rather different. Come to think of it, it would probably be worthwhile to write a post on tripods in general.
To bridge the gap between now and mid-November, I have scheduled two posts to appear during my absence. See you later!
This distinctive species forms clumps to 30 cm tall and 40 cm wide by branching dichotomously (an uncommon thing in the genus).
The branches are usually 2-3.5 cm thick and 2-7 cm long, with 10-16 ribs.
The plants grow in the eastern part of Somaliland at altitudes between 1200-1500 m on open plains where the topsoil is often a layer of powder-like limestone.
Plant in cultivation; scanned slide
To see this species in the wild, you have to go to the far north of Madagascar. The plants grow there abundantly on limestone on the Montagne des Français and neighbouring hills near Antsiranana. The old -but still often used- name for this town is Diego Suarez (hence the specific epithet).
The plants are solitary, with or without a short stem, with leaves up to 60 cm long and 10 cm wide.
They produce inflorescences 60-80 cm tall, with 4-12 branches. The flowers have a length of about 2.8 cm and are covered with very short, soft hairs.
With a height of up to 2.5 m, this is the biggest of the Tylecodons. It is also the most widespread, from the Auas Mts. in central Namibia to Worcester and Steytlerville in the south and southeast. The species seems to prefer stony slopes, but in South Africa it is also found on sand along the western and southern coastline.
The plants have fat yellowish stems (up to 0.6 m in diameter and usually undivided), with peeling bark.
The branches are over 2 cm thick and bear leaves 5-12 cm long and 2-10 cm wide which are usually finely hairy in young plants and hairless in older ones.
The flowers appear in October -January, by which time the plants have shed their leaves. The corolla tubes are 1.2-1.6 cm long, yellowish to red, whereas the lobes are orange and 1-1.3 cm long. The flowers are pollinated mainly by sunbirds.
Because the plants tends to grow in groups, they often make wonderful displays when flowering.
On left T. wallichii