Trip to Namaqualand

Earlier this month I was on an 8-day trip to Namaqualand with a couple of friends, hoping to see Argyrodermas and Conophytums in flower.
In spite of the drought  we saw a lot of interesting plants, a few of which are pictured below.
Many other pictures should find their way into posts on succulents from the area.

Aloe khamiesensis

 

 

 

Argyroderma fissum
Conophytum minutum var. minutum
Conophytum obcordellum ssp. obcordellum
Euphorbia schoenlandii
Haworthia arachnoidea var. namaquensis
Young plant of Pelargonium crithmifolium

 

Euphorbia heptagona (part 1 of 2)

Even a quick look at the pictures in the two parts of this post will tell you that this species comes in many guises.
No less than five varieties have been described in the past, but  most experts do not accept them anymore. In addition to this,  E. enopla and E. atrispina are now usually considered to be synoniems.

The plants are much-branched shrubs ranging in height between 7 and 130 cm and are either male or female. The branches are 1.5-3 cm in diameter and have 6-9 angles with obscure tubercles. They bear stout simple thorns (actually woody peduncles) 0.8-6 cm long.
One can come across this species in dry scrubland on stony north-facing slopes and rocky outcrops, from Ceres and Montagu in the West to Jansenville  and Graaff-Reinet in the East.

First two examples of E. atrispina

Pictures 3 and 4 show plants on the Oubergpass near Montagu


Typical E. heptagona

Lithops karasmontana ssp. karasmontana var. karasmontana

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.

lithkarakarkar 2007-09-09 IMG_2732

lithkarakarkar 2872

lithkarakarkar 2873

lithkarakarkar 2877

Malephora mollis

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.

malemoll 2009-09-27#055

malemoll 2010-07-29#050

malemoll 2010-07-29#034

malemoll 2010-07-29#062

malemoll 2009-09-27#054

malemoll 3904

malemoll 3906

Kewa (Hypertelis) salsoloides

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.

hypesals 1845

hypesals 2009-07-30#090

hypesals 2009-07-29#038

hypesals 2009-07-29#042

hypesals 2011-07-10 5822