Crassula brevifolia ssp. brevifolia

This very variable taxon occurs from southern Namibia to the Cederberg in South Africa, but mainly in the mountainous area of Namaqualand near Vanrhynsdorp, in rock crevices or between boulders, often in very exposed positions.

The plants form much-branched shrublets up to 0,5 m tall. The leaves are green, sometimes turning yellowish green or purplish red; they are almost triangular in section, usually 20-35 mm long (sometimes as short as 10 mm or as long as 50 mm) and 2-4 (sometimes 6) mm wide, about as thick as they are wide.
In autumn/early winter (March-June) the flowers appear, which as a rule are yellow-green, rarely white with a pink tinge.



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.

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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.

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Pelargonium carnosum (part 1 of 2)

As the name carnosum (fleshy) suggests, this is one of the more succulent Pelargoniums.
Old plants can be quite impressive, with a height of up to about 1 m. But with lots of old leaves and flower stalks, big plants may also look rather untidy compared to young specimens with their nice smooth stems.
The stems are sparsely branched, with very variable, deeply incised and often somewhat fleshy leaves up to 20 cm long.
In Sept.-April the flowers appear in up to 50 compact clusters; they are 1-1.5 cm in diameter, white,  pinkish or greenish yellow,  with reddish markings on the upper petals.
The plants are found on dry flats and rocky slopes from Namibia to the Little Karoo and the Eastern Cape Province.

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Aloidendron dichotomum (part 1 of 2)

Based on genetic research, in 2013 Ronell Klopper and Gideon Smith created the  genus Aloidendron to accommodate 6 species of tree aloes, including Aloe dichotoma.
The plants form trees with a rounded crown,  with stems to 1 m in diameter at the base and usually 3-4 m tall (sometimes up to 9 m).
The bark on the trunk peels lengthwise, forming large scales with hard and razor-sharp edges. The leaves are about 30 cm long and 5 cm wide at their base.
In winter (May-August),  the flowers appear; they are pollinated by starlings, sunbirds, weaver birds and white-eyes.

From the Brandberg Massif in Namibia to Upington,  Kenhardt and the Nieuwoudtville area in South Africa, the species forms a conspicuous component 0f the landscape. The plants occur in open sites, usually in rocky terrain but also in flats.
Depending on the area, rainfall (between 50 and 300 mm per year) may occur in either summer or winter.

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Drosanthemum curtophyllum

It is often rather difficult to identify Drosanthemum species, but in this case the name is a useful pointer (curtophyllum = with shortened leaves).
The plants are shrublets 10-30 cm tall, with branches that are mostly erect, rooting when growing in sand.
The leaves are not just short, but also comparatively fat: 3-5 mm long and 2-4 mm wide.
In September-October the flowers appear; they have white, pale pink or bicoloured petals up to 7 mm long.
The plants occur from the coastal belt in the Namibian Sperrgebiet to Nuwerus in Namaqualand, mostly in sand or gravel, but also in granite.

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