Operculicarya consists of 5 species of deciduous shrubs or small trees with conical or irregularly swollen trunks, warty-bumpy bark and gnarled branches. The genus is endemic to Madagascar and belongs to the Anacardiaceae, a family of over 800 species mainly occurring in the tropics and subtropics, including well known crop plants such as pistachio, cashew nut and mango.
O. decaryi is the most widespread of the genus and occurs in dry forests in the southwest and south of the island.
It can be a small shrub or a tree, up to 6 m or more tall, with tuber-like roots*. The trunk may be parallel-sided, bottle-shaped or conical, is up to 1 m in diameter and has silver-grey or dark grey bark.
The twigs are slender, more or less straight to strongly zig-zag; young ones sometimes hairy. The leaves are 2.5-6 cm long with 4-9 (usually 5-7) pairs of leaflets, which do not touch each other.
The bright to dark red flowers are either male or female.
Like O. pachypus, the plants are becoming increasingly rare in the wild and are listed in Appendix II of CITES.
* these can be used for root cuttings.
Pics 1-3 taken mid May, 4 and 5 late July 2017
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.
In contrast to Ornithogalum sardienii, this species is widespread on dry rocky places, from Caledon and the Little Karoo to the eastern part of southern Africa. It was first described in 1797, but in the period between 1843 and 1945 it got no less than 16 new names. To make this even stranger, only 6 botanists were responsible for this.
The plants form clusters of above-ground bulbs to 4cm in diameter and tall, with pale to grey-brown, leathery outer tunics.
The leaves are more or less erect, often present when flowering, 10-20 cm long and only 2-3 mm wide, usually strongly ribbed.
The inflorescences are up to 40 cm long, with up to 15 flowers (white with darker keels); they appear from November to March.
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.