The last picture shows a plant in cultivation.
When you have a first look at the kind of habitat this species is found in, it looks bare and desolate.
The photo below was made in the beginning of April after good rains, so one would expect a lot of activity going on. And there is, but the plants growing here are so small, that you have to look properly to see them. Accidentally, the other interesting dwarf succulent growing in this spot near Nieuwoudtville is a Conophytum named after the same person (Prof R.H. Compton, the second director of the National Botanical Gardens in South Africa). More about that at a later stage.
The plants grow in very shallow depressions in flat sandstone rocks. After rains, the depressions are filled with water and the little plants are often completely submerged for some time. The following picture was taken in September.
In the dry period the plants are often almost invisible (the picture below was taken in November). Can you see the little caudexes?
The last picture gives a better idea of how charming these miniatures are when in flower (the caudexes are only 1-2 cm in diameter and 1-1.5 cm tall) .
It is easy to take this species for granted, even in spite of the cobwebby hairs it is decorated with.
The following is a quote from Gordon Rowley’s booklet ” Anacampseros, Avonia, Grahamia. A grower’s Handbook” :
“This attractive and distinctive species seeds itself freely around the glasshouse and has long been cherished or tolerated in collections of succulents. The abrupt tapering of the leaf to a spiny tip is its most distinctive feature”
This sounds to me like a nice example of damning with faint praise.
When one inspects the plants a bit closer, the beautiful, almost reptile-like surface texture of the leaves is revealed. I must confess that since I have discovered this characteristic, I look at these plants with renewed respect.
Strange though it may sound, up to yesterday I never managed to make a decent picture of a fully open Anacampseros telephiastrum flower.
Yesterday afternoon I went out to Kanonkop (Cannon head), a rocky outcrop overlooking Montagu. Although I did not find what I had hoped to see, there were several other interesting plants, including a lot of flowering Anacampseros telephiastrums. In fact I have never seen so many plants of this species together in one spot. The flowers appear in November and December; they only open late afternoon (the pictures were made at about quarter past four).
For the second one I positioned my camera bag in such a way that it shaded the background. Because of the great contrast in light between the flower and the dark background, the flower was totally overexposed.