Cleretum papulosum

Not long ago the genus Cleretum had only three members. Because there are no clear characteristics for separating Clertum and Dorotheanthus, in 2012 it was decided to combine the two genera. This means that the species in  Dorotheanthus have been transferred to Cleretum, which as a result of this now contains 14 species.

C. papulosum is a trailing annual with strap- to racket-shaped leaves to 3 cm long.
The small yellow flowers appear from July to October.
The plants are widespread from Namaqualand and Bushmanland to Mossel Bay; they are
often locally abundant on sandy/loamy soils, especially in disturbed spots.

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Mesembryanthemum (Sceletium) tortuosum (part 1 of 2)

It’s a bit of a pity that the former genus name has been dropped, as it aptly suggested the way  in which the persistent old, dry leaves form a sceleton protecting the new leaves.
The creeping or scrambling plants have  imbricate leaves (overlapping like the tiles of a roof); which are to 4 cm long and 2 cm wide, with the tips turned inwards.
The flowers are white to pale yellow, pale salmon or pale pink, about 2-3 cm in diameter; they have a short stalk and appear in July-October.
It is a widespread species, occurring under bushes or in the open from Namaqualand to Montagu and Aberdeen in both winter and summer rainfall areas; often on quartz.

As in other members of the genus, the plants contain the alkaloid mesembrymine and have medicinal properties. The fermented  leaves are  widely used as a sedative and to relieve pain such as toothache and stomach ache. The concoction can also cause drunkenness.

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Mesembryanthemum (Sceletium) tortuosum (part 2 of 2)

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Mesembryanthemum aitonis

Like so many other members of the genus, this species is a pioneer and therefore usually found in disturbed places.
The plants occur in the southern and eastern cape region, in both summer and winter rainfall areas.
They are creeping or upwards growing annuals or biennials, depending on the water supply. The stems are round or -as the pictures show- somewhat angular; they have flat and more or less spatula-shaped leaves which are very variable in size, to 5 cm long and 1.5 cm wide.
The flowers are 0.5-2 cm in diameter, white, sometimes with a pinkish tint; they appear from September to January.

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Trichodiadema peersii

According to the literature, this is a more or less erect shrub up to 9 cm tall.
The leaves are 5-8 mm long and 4 mm wide and thick, tipped with a diadem consisting of 4-9 bristles*.
The white flowers are about 3.8 cm wide and appear in spring and summer: Sept.-Dec.; they produce fruits with 5 or 6 compartments.
The plants occur in the Willowmore district.

* In some of the plants shown here, the diadems have many more bristles. Because all other characteristics agree, I take it all pictures represent the same species.

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Cotyledon papillaris

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.

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Pachypodium brevicaule (part 3 of 3)

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