Once you know that monile is the Latin word for a string of pearls and monilaria means a collection of strings of pearl, this repetitive tongue twister of a name may begin to make more sense.
But let’s forget about the name and look at the plants themselves.
The branches consist of flattish, rounded segments and may become up to 20 cm tall.
The flowers are to 4.5 cm in diameter, usually white (sometimes with a yellow tinge), with white, orange or purple filaments*.
They have a long stalk (to 10 cm tall), appear in July-August and are highly scented.
As a rule the plants grow fully exposed in loamy soil on quartz patches in the southernmost part of the Knersvlakte.
According to “MESEMBS OF THE WORLD”, Monilaria plants are very long-lived, possibly centuries.
* the thread-like part of the stamen
All pictures shown here were taken late July 2017.
Plants of this species are found from the Richtersveld to the Vanrhynsdorp area; they grow in crevices and small pans on rocky outcrops or steps of granite, sandstone or quartz. These specialised habitats retain more moisture than their surroundings: rather important in an area with usually less than 100 mm rain per year.
They form low shrublets with a central head and trailing branches which do not root at the nodes.
The leaves are three-sided, often laterally compressed, brown to dark green.
In June-July the flowers appear with 3-5 together (rarely solitary); they are up to 3.5 cm in diameter with white, purple or bicoloured petals and filamentous staminodes gathered in a central cone.
The fruits have 7-12 (usually 10) compartments, with the top higher than the basal part.
This is the last of the Antimima trio I mentioned before (see A. evoluta and A. turneriana).
The plants are unlike any other succulent (although when I saw them first, they strangely enough reminded me of Mammillaria saboae) and form attractive compact shrublets to 12 cm tall, looking like a miniature tree.
The mauve to magenta flowers are 1.5 cm in diameter and appear in June-July.
To be found on limestone outcrops with marble on the southern Knersvlakte.
This is the second member of the Antimima trio that I mentioned in the preceding post (Antimima evoluta).
These plants forms compact clumps up to 5 cm tall.
The leaves are up to 1.5 cm long and 0.8 cm wide and thick, keeled and with tough and hard margins; usually with convex sides.
Usually the flowers come in threes but sometimes they are solitary. They are pinkish-purple and 1.8 cm in diameter; they appear in June-July ( photographed 23 July 2017).
Occurring in crevices of white quartz, marble or limestone on the southern Knersvlakte.
During my second trip this year to Namaqualand, I came across a trio of interesting and beautiful Antimimas which I had never seen in the wild before. Two of the 3 (A. fenestrata and A. turneriana) were in flower, but the one pictured here flowers in October and had only just woken up by the looks of it. All the plants were growing on low limestone hills in a spot maybe 100×100 m.
Antimima evoluta forms rounded clumps up to 5 cm tall, consisting of bodies about 4 mm long and wide.
At the end of the growing period, the pairs of old leaves dry up and form a white sheath protecting the new pairs during the hot and dry resting period.
In October the plants are decorated with magenta flowers up to 1.7 mm in diameter.
The species occurs on the Knersvlakte, extending eastwards to Loeriesfontein, and grows in crevices on slopes of white quartz or limestone mixed with marble.
Pictures taken 26th July 2017
Forming compact cushions to 10 cm tall with leaves 4.5 to 6 cm long.
The flowers are pink to purple with a lighter centre and appear in July – August.
The plants are often confused with C. caespitosum but have fruits with 11-15 instead of 9-10 compartments.
They occur in the southern Knersvlakte in loamy soil among white quartz pebbles; often together with Argyroderma delaetii.
This year, I was fortunate enough to make two trips to Namaqualand. One of the delights of these trips was seeing C. minusculum ssp. minusculum in flower (pictures made 13th May), and in full growth (pictures dated 27th July). All pictures were made on the Gifberg.
The plants are quite variable and form low mats or domes of slightly keeled bodies with a shining green or purplish top, usually with conspicuous lines. The flowers appear mainly in March-June and are huge in comparison to the small bodies, magenta or rose, rarely white.
Found from the Cederberg north and west growing on Table Mountain sandstone, usually with moss and often in damp depressions.
The plants prefer acid soil in cultivation.
With Crassula tomentosa var. interrupta