These plants are geophytes with tuberous roots; they occur from the Cape Peninsula eastward to Port Elizabeth, growing in coastal dunes.
As a special adaptations to their sandy habitat, they have long creeping branches rooting at the nodes.
The Aizoaceae family does not have not many members that are either geophytic or adapted to a habitat of shifting sands, but this species somehow manages to belong to both categories.
One can find the plants in flower from spring to mid-summer. The flowers are 2-3 cm in diameter and yellow, mauve or salmon in colour, sometimes with a red hue.
The leaves are almost cylindrical or channeled (=canaliculatus).
Photographed near Jeffrey’s Bay 25 Oct. 2012.
Almost all Mesembs are leaf succulents, but this species is an exception.
On young stems, leaves are present for a short period, but they fall off as soon as the dry period sets in. The leaves are small but at the same time quite succulent. One would think it to be wasteful to invest a lot of energy in producing something that is used for only a short while. Nevertheless it seems to be a successful strategy, as the species is widespread and often locally abundant. They act as pioneers on disturbed loamy soils and that probably explains how they can afford to be wasteful with their resources. The disturbance will in most cases aerate the soil and make nutrients available, so that for some time food is present in abundance.
The plants may be up to 60 cm tall and occur from Namaqualand to the Eastern Cape.
The flowers are white, pink or purple, up to 1.5 cm across and appear in spring (September- November).
The big bladder cells that cover leaves and calyxes give the impression of beautiful jewellery, but their reason for being there is rather more prosaic. They function as external water storage for the plants (see post 17 Dec. 2012).
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).
George Hattingh’s comment on the previous post reminded me of the fact that this species occurs at least as far east as Calitzdorp.
The following three pictures were taken 8 Oct. 2009:
The last two ones date from 19 Oct. 2008.
This interesting annual is locally abundant in disturbed places from Ceres to the western Little Karoo. The flowers appear in Sept.- Oct. and are pink or white.
8 Aug. 2009
26 Sept. 2006
30 Sept. 2011
30 Sept. 2011
To be continued.