I find it quite difficult to make a good picture of the flowers of this species. They are so dark that they seem to absorb all the available light and turn black in the picture. Under an overcast sky, with enough light but no sun, one can see that the flowers in fact are a beautiful very dark purple. The flowers appear in autumn and winter (March-June).
The species has the widest distribution of the whole genus -from Namibia to the Little Karoo. The plants are few and far in between, growing on stony flats and slopes; they may become up to 60 cm tall.
More pictures to follow
Over the years I came across several plants of this species, but although it is not uncommon in the Little Karoo and just north of it in the southwestern Great Karoo, I had never seen a flowering plant in the wild.
Near Ladismith, 1 May 2011
Last Friday I met a new plant friend, who lives near Montagu. She showed me around on her farm where there were several plants of this species with its unusual stems. And, lo and behold, one of them was in flower. This was even more remarkable because the literature tells us that the flowers occur from March to May. Quite a nice birthday present!
It seemed appropriate to devote this first post from my new home to a plant that was first discovered near Montagu. Nowadays it is known to be widely distributed from just south of Ceres to the area north of Port Elizabeth. In a genus where most plants look rather dull when not in flower, this is probably the most handsome. It is a robust species, forming shrubs of almost half a meter tall and even more in diameter. (The only Quaqua that is occasionally bigger is Q. mammillaris). In spite of their size, the plants are not always very easy to find. The shape and mottling of the stems provide a nice camouflage.
The two plants in habitat were photographed in early November at the northern foot of the Rooiberg pass near Calitzdorp. The flowering plant is a cultivated one.