The name kalisana has its origin in Swahili and means very fierce. This is indeed the first impression the plants convey. At the same time they are peculiarly beautiful with their colourful stems and often almost white spinescence .
The plant’s roots are thick and fleshy and give rise to a stem up to 7.5 cm high and 20 cm in diameter, its top usually more or less at ground-level. Its sprawling branches are up 1 m long and to 2 cm thick, with very robust, to 7 cm long spines.
One can find the plants in northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia on gravelly soil (often lava) at an altitude between 100 and 100o m.
The pictures were taken south and north of Mt. Kulal, at altitudes between 485 and 925 m. The plants from this very arid area are usually larger and more robust than those from the lower altitude plains further east.
The first picture gives an impression of one of these desolate places between Loiyangalani and North Horr.