The first name that comes to mind on seeing a plant of this species is probably Argyroderma fissum (unless you are a real expert of course).
The two species share the same growth form as well as size and shape of the leaves; often they also grow near to each other. Fortunately the fruits are rather different and stay on the plants for a long time. (The Antimima has fruits with 5 locules, whereas in Argyroderma fruits there are at least 10 compartments).
The finger-shaped leaves are up to 3 cm long. The flowers come mostly in threes and appear in May-July; they are pinkish-purple and 1.8-2.5 cm in diameter.
In some places the species forms large mats on flats or gentle loamy slopes with an open cover of quartz pebbles. According to the literature, it occurs in the Vredendal-Vanrhynsdorp area, but last year I also found plants in the northern half of the Knersvlakte.
This species has a number of uncommon features, making it easy to recognise – once you know what to look for.
It is a small shrub up to 15 cm tall of which the short shoots are decked out with small spine-like projections and it has boat-shaped leaves to 1 cm long and 0.5 cm wide (those on upper shoots are more or less round). The leaves are covered with papillae which are more or less cobblestone-shaped, but much longer on the edges.
The flowers are solitary, pinkish-purple to almost white and to about 3 cm in diameter; they appear in July-September and are followed by fruits with 6 (instead of the usual 5) compartments.
The plants occur in deep soil usually covered with quartz pebbles, from Namaqualand to Clanwilliam.
Among all the various growth forms in the genus Euphorbia, the design of this species stands out as something singular.
The plants consist of a thick main stem covered with numerous branches up to 8 cm long, decreasing in length towards the top of the plant.
In this way, a compact cone is formed up to 60 cm tall and to 25 cm across at base. In some cases however, the plants are not shaped quite so neatly, resulting in a far less appealing and peculiar habit of growth (see pictures).
The spines are in fact sterile flower stalks; they are 0.8 to 7 cm long and arise from both main stem and branches.
The species occurs on stony slopes and flats from Steinkopf in Namaqualand to the western Little Karoo.
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.