Lithops karasmontana occurs only in Namibia and is a very variable species with 3 subspecies, one of them with 4 varieties.
Var. karasmontana is found to the west and southwest of the Great Karasberg and on its own supplies most of the variability in the species, ranging from opaque and uniformly coloured plants to ones with narrow channels and markings and others with more or less translucent open windows. All this combined with a great variation in colours, from bluish-white to yellowish brown and brick red.
The flowers are white and usually 2.5-3.5 cm in diameter.
The plants figuring here, were photographed on a rose quartz outcrop near Grunau.
It is usually easy to identify a plant as a Malephora. Beyond that however, things are rather muddled up. So it is with some trepidation that I attach a species name to the pictures shown here.
M. mollis is described as a profusely branched shrub up to 50 cm tall, with leaves three-angled to round in cross-section and to 20 mm long and about 3 mm thick.
The distribution area is given as Laingsburg and both the flowering time and the habitat as unknown.
The photos were taken on stony flats northwest of Laingsburg, between early August and mid-October.
Sometimes, writing a post for this blog involves quite a bit of detective work, which may at times be a bit tedious, but often also gives interesting new insights.
For many years, I have known the subject of this post as Hypertelis salsoloides. When I started collecting info on it, I found out that neither the List of southern African succulent plants (1997), nor the Illustrated handbook of succulent plants (2002) mentioned it. This in spite of the fact that both publications take a rather liberal view on what is a succulent.
So was this plant, which I had known for over sixty years as a succulent, really a succulent?
Older literature such as Jacobsen’s A handbook of succulent plants (1960) and Das Sukkulenten Lexikon (1981) did not mention the name either, but they did cite Pharnaceum salsaloides, as a synonym of Hypertelis verrucosa.
On the other hand, the 2 volumes of “Plants of the Greater Cape Floristic Region”, published in 2012/2013, both mention Hypertelis salsoloides as a current name.
Shortly after they appeared (2014), a new genus (Kewa) was established in the Molluginaceae, the family Hypertelis belongs to. The type of the genus is Kewa salsoloides and it is stated that “The genus differs from Hypertelis sensu stricto in having succulent, alternate, terete leaves…..”
What a relief to find out that this dainty little plant was indeed a succulent all along :-).
The species is widespread and often abundant across the interior of southern Africa, from Namibia and Zimbabwe to the Little Karoo, on dry sandy and loamy lowland flats.The plants are often much-grazed and form dwarf, short-lived shrublets up to 30 cm tall with leaves up to 3 cm long and 0.5 cm wide.
The flowers are white to pink and about 1 cm in diameter; they appear mainly from September to March. The flower stalks bear relatively big warts, which sets the species apart from its siblings.
As the name carnosum (fleshy) suggests, this is one of the more succulent Pelargoniums.
Old plants can be quite impressive, with a height of up to about 1 m. But with lots of old leaves and flower stalks, big plants may also look rather untidy compared to young specimens with their nice smooth stems.
The stems are sparsely branched, with very variable, deeply incised and often somewhat fleshy leaves up to 20 cm long.
In Sept.-April the flowers appear in up to 50 compact clusters; they are 1-1.5 cm in diameter, white, pinkish or greenish yellow, with reddish markings on the upper petals.
The plants are found on dry flats and rocky slopes from Namibia to the Little Karoo and the Eastern Cape Province.
These plants are easily mistaken for a Lampranthus or a Ruschia. Their fruits however mostly have 10 compartments, whereas in Lampranthus the number is always 5 and in Ruschia usually 5, sometimes 6.
They form untidy mats or sprawling shrubs, sometimes with some erect branches to 70 cm tall.
The magenta flowers are 0.6-3 cm in diameter and appear mainly between autumn and early spring: April-September.
The plants occur widespread from Namaqualand to Humansdorp and Uniondale and are often locally abundant in flats and slopes with gravel, sand or loam. They are not browsed by stock or game, so when a great many of them are growing together, this indicates past disturbance and overgrazing of the veld. In the southern part of the distribution area, the plants will grow quickly on disturbed ground, e.g on road sides.