This species is quite common in the Laingsburg area. Photographed 11 Nov. 2007.
Although the plant is a leaf succulent, like almost all other members of the Aizoaceae family, it looks like a stem succulent as a result of the long and thick leaf sheaths.
In a recent post (Cover up, 14th Jan.) I discussed how spines, hairs etc. help succulents conserve water. In some families we also come across plants where the leaves are (partly) covered in warts, papillae or tubercles. Although these are often highly decorative, it seemed likely to me that they would first and foremost serve a useful purpose. After doing a bit of research I came up with some interesting information.
It appears that the presence of these projections on stems or leaves has an advantage for the plants in that the breathing pores are hidden in the lower areas between them. This diminishes transpiration and protects the plants from dehydration.
In the case of warts, there is an additional advantage: their epidermis is rich in crystals and lies over cells that store up tannin. This combination makes the plant rather unattractive to herbivores.
In the following two species the names make no reference to things like warts or tubercles, but it is clear that this is not because of lack of these.