The family Eriospermaceae contains only one genus, with about a hundred species. The name Eriospermum means woolly seed, referring to the long hairs that cover the seeds. The plants have underground tubers, which in most species produce only one leaf per year. In the case of E. paradoxum the leaf is about 7×6 mm, bearing a peculiar and distinctive tree shaped outgrowth (enation), which may be up to 11 cm long and 3 cm wide. The leafing period is May to October, slightly overlapping the flowering time (April/May).
E. paradoxum has a wide distribution in the winter rainfall area, from the Richtersveld in the north-west to near Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, on sandy or clayey soils.
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