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.
When one sees a great many of these plants together, this usually means that the local vegetation has been heavily disturbed (the plants are rarely eaten by stock or game because the juice in the leaves is very salty). They can absorb a great amount of water after rain, not only in the leaves but also in the roots.
The plants usually live for only a few years or, in more official terms, they are annuals or short-lived perennials, up to 50 cm tall with leaves 3-4 cm long and about 1 cm thick.
The flowers appear in spring (August-October) and produce large fruits with woolly seeds.
This species (the only one in the genus) is widespread on dry sandy or loamy flats from southern Namibia and Bushmanland to the Little Karoo.
Hamata means hooked, an apt specific name for this species with its recurved tubercles.
The plants often form dense, much-branched clumps up to about 50 cm tall and 60 cm or more in diameter with a thickened main stem.
The flowers (cyathia really) are surrounded by green or yellowish to red bracts and appear from April to September.
One can find this species from Luederitz in southern Namibia to SE of Worcester in the Western Cape, usually on stony slopes.
With a height of up to 2.5 m, this is the biggest of the Tylecodons. It is also the most widespread, from the Auas Mts. in central Namibia to Worcester and Steytlerville in the south and southeast. The species seems to prefer stony slopes, but in South Africa it is also found on sand along the western and southern coastline.
The plants have fat yellowish stems (up to 0.6 m in diameter and usually undivided), with peeling bark.
The branches are over 2 cm thick and bear leaves 5-12 cm long and 2-10 cm wide which are usually finely hairy in young plants and hairless in older ones.
The flowers appear in October -January, by which time the plants have shed their leaves. The corolla tubes are 1.2-1.6 cm long, yellowish to red, whereas the lobes are orange and 1-1.3 cm long. The flowers are pollinated mainly by sunbirds.
Because the plants tends to grow in groups, they often make wonderful displays when flowering.
On left T. wallichii
With its thick, often nearly golden yellow stems, heavy armature and beautiful flowers, this species stands out even within a group of plants as special as the Sarcocaulons.
The plants occur in the coastal desert from Luederitz in southern Namibia to the Holgat River in South Africa and also in the area between Bethanie and Klein Karas in Namibia. In some regions of stabilised coarse sand they are very common with sometimes few or no other plants around. In some areas they are also found in rock crevices.
Their habit is creeping to more or less upright, up to 50 cm tall. Although they are potentially very spiny plants, the spines are often continually abrased by wind-blown sand.
When flowering (mainly May-September) the plants are even more attractive than usual, with their pink, magenta or purple flowers of about 3 cm in diameter.
Both the scientific and the vernacular name (Orange River Aloe) refer to its occurrence along the Orange River (from Grootderm in the west to Keimoes in the east). It is also plentiful in the Warmbad area of Namibia. The plants are usually found in steep rocky places and are rather variable, depending on the locality.
Usually solitary, the plants are stemless or short-stemmed (up to 1 m tall).
The leaves are 30-40 cm long and 5-8 cm wide near the base, incurved, dull yellowish-green to reddish-brown with numerous longitudinal lines. In young plants they are
copiously spotted on both surfaces, later on they only have some spots on the upper surface. The margins have small, sharp teeth, but otherwise the leaves are unarmed.
The unbranched inflorescences are up to 1.2 m tall and bear flowers from July to September. These are usually yellow to greenish yellow, but in the eastern part of the distribution area sometimes reddish.
Although this is a very variable species with several synoniems, it is nevertheless easy to identify.
The plants are low, spreading shrublets with branches to 25 cm long, often rooting at nodes and bearing leaves 15-60 mm long and 4-13 mm wide, yellowish-green to glaucous*, usually with a red tip or margin.
The flowers vary in colour from yellowish and orange to darkish pink and deep red, with a tube 5-8 mm long and lobes 10-15 mm long. They appear mainly in October-February, but also after rain at other times.
Usually the plants occur on stony slopes and flats; they are often abundant in the shade of small bushes. They are widespread from southwestern Namibia to the Little Karoo and extending into the Eastern Cape.
*glaucous: covered with a thin greyish-white to bluish-green layer of wax.