This characteristic species always reminds me of strawberry plants, as it is the only Kalanchoe producing runners (sometimes up to over a meter long!). It is not uncommon in open, rocky places in the mountains of Madagascar’s Central Plateau.
The plants usually have a short thick stem and the leaves are variable in size, shape and colour, usually 6-15 cm long and 4-7 cm wide, glabrous or with short hairs; the margins may have strong teeth and are sometimes dissected.
The compact inflorescences have up to 30 white to purple flowers with a 7-12 mm long, 4-angled tube.
One can come across this species on the gneiss and granite plateaux of Madagascar’s Central region at altitudes between 1200 and 1600 m, where it grows in full sun with Pachypodium densiflorum, Aloe capitata var. capitata, Euphorbia leucodendron ssp. leucodendron and other succulent and non- succulent plants.
It has stems 0.8-1.5 m tall and 9-13 mm across, usually erect, not twining, round or slightly angled, covered with wax and smooth or slightly rough.
The inflorescences have 10-15 greenish-yellow, cup-shaped flowers.
Pictures taken near Zazafotsy, 12th June 2017.
H. mucronata is a very variable species, often even at varietal level. One of the few constant characters is the fact that the leaves are soft , incurved and slightly pellucid, with translucent margins and keel.
Var. mucronata occurs from the Barrydale area to north of Oudtshoorn.
All pictures were taken at the same spot within Barrydale itself: the first five on 8 Aug. 2017 (late winter/early spring), the last two on 28 Jan. 2016 (midsummer).
Densely branched bushes of this variety, up to a meter tall and to more than a meter in diameter, occur from Fianarantsoa in the central highlands of Madagascar to Tulear in the southwest and Beloha in the south; in the highlands they are locally abundant.
They grow in thin soil on granite, gneiss and limestone rocks, often in the shade of other bushes.
The plants are variable in the size of the stems and leaves as well as the flowers.
On average the leaves are 30 x 4 cm, grey-green with reddish tinge, without markings.
The inflorescence is to 50 cm long, undivided or with 2-4 branches; the flowers are coral-red with pale red tips.
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.
In this subspecies the stems have 4 or 5 angles; they are 2 to 10 cm long and 1-1.5 cm thick, grey-green, sometimes with faint purple-red spots.
The striking flowers are 2-7.5 cm in diameter and appear in November-April.
Plants are found from Somerset East to near Willowmore, between Uniondale and Joubertina and also between Oudtshoorn and Calitzdorp, under bushes on stony slopes.
The pictures shown here were all taken in the latter area and represent the former subsp. calitzdorpensis (the plant in the third picture was growing next to the road, hence the specks of dust).