Quaqua pillansii

It seemed appropriate to devote this first post from my new home to a plant that was first discovered near Montagu. Nowadays it is known to be widely distributed from just south of Ceres to the area north of Port Elizabeth.  In a genus where most plants look rather dull when not in flower, this is probably the most handsome. It is a robust species, forming shrubs of almost half a meter tall and even more in diameter. (The only Quaqua that is occasionally bigger is Q. mammillaris).  In spite of their  size, the plants are not always very easy to find. The shape and mottling of the stems provide a nice camouflage.
The two plants in habitat were photographed in early November at the northern foot of the Rooiberg pass near Calitzdorp.  The flowering plant is a cultivated one.

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An outstanding Huernia (Huernia praestans)

H. praestans was described by N. E. Brown in 1909 and judging from the name he gave it (praestans = outstanding; pre-eminent) he must have considered it to be something quite special. It is  recorded from a relatively small area in the western part of the Little Karoo (from Montagu to around Ladismith and Vanwyksdorp).
Up to now I only know the species from one slope with a rather dense scrub vegetation  between Hoeko and Ladismith, which is slightly east of the recorded distribution area.

Huernia praestans

H. praestans, east of Ladismith

When I first saw the plants, I thought they belonged to the much better known H. guttata, which occupies a wide area in  the Eastern Cape and the eastern part of the Little Karoo. Its habitats from near Calitzdorp are only 40-50 kms away from the place mentioned above.
The main differences between the two species is the fact that H. guttata only has some bristles in the mouth of the tube, whereas in H. praestans they also occur on the lobes.
All in all little is known of H. praestans and it has been suggested that it is  a hybrid between H. guttata and H. barbata.  The latter has a very wide distribution area, from the Knersvlakte as far as Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape.

Huernia guttata with Duvalia caespitosa

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H. guttata, above (with Duvalia caespitosa) and H. barbata, Mom and Dad?