It has taken me a couple of years to be at the right spot at the right time to photograph this species in flower. I knew of only one small locality, some 130 kms from where I lived and the few times I went there they were not in flower. Nowadays I live much nearer, but the main thing is that I found out that the plants flower a few months earlier than almost all other Gibbaeums (late April and early May). Anyway, yesterday I went there with two friends and lo and behold: there they were, in full bloom.
“The Gibbaeum Handbook” by G. C. Nel (1953), gives the following information:
The shale hillocks, on which it seems to thrive best, consist of laminated shales and are entirely devoid, at times, of any other vegetation. They are quite bare and G. nebrownii is embedded in the soil and only the top surface is exposed. During the hot summer months, it is withdrawn into the soil and one only sees a brown membrane, the remainder of the old leaves, and is, consequently, very difficult to find. It resembles a Lithops or an Ophthalmophyllum in this respect. It is squeezed into the crevices between the slate layers”.
The species is only found sporadically in the western part of the Little Karoo.
The first two pictures were taken 30 June 2013, the others 4 May 2014
This species is one of the most widely distributed in the genus (from north of Laingsburg to the Calitzdorp area) and seems to feel at home especially in quartz outcrops.
It is also one of the most variable ones. In some populations the plants form clumps 15-30 cm across, in others the clumps are small, with only a few bodies. The bodies may vary from about 8 mm to 6 cm in diameter and from a few millimeters to about 6 cm in height.
According to Nel’s The Gibbaeum Handbook, the colours run from: “uniformly whitish, white greyish, metal grey to pale glaucous green, green, sometimes tinted yellowish, purplish or sometimes quite reddish (this latter colour probably indication that clump is shrivelling off)”.
The flowers can be 10 to 30 mm across and are white, pink or purple.
All pictures in this post were taken in 2009
The first picture on 8 Febr.
The second one on 31 May
Nos. three and four on 9 Oct.
More pictures to come.
In cultivation this species is rather common, as it is one of the easier Gibbaeums to grow and flower (see picture at bottom).
In the wild it is only found on a few very dry shaly ridges near Vanwyksdorp. According to Nel’s Gibbaeum Handbook, it is the only Gibbaeum which does not grow together with any other species of the genus.
The plants look a bit like G. album, but they are darker and softer. The flowers appear in April.
A widely distributed species (from Zebra, between George and Oudtshoorn, to the Montagu area), often locally abundant on loamy soils with quartz pebbles.
The very soft, almost translucent bodies lie flat on the ground (cryptopodium literally means “with hidden foot”) and in dry periods often almost disappear from sight. In the rainy season they are yellowish green, often turning red in the dry period. They are more or less round or egg-shaped (nuciforme = shaped like a nut).
To be continued.