|Euphorbia stellospina remarkably mimics the|
growth form of cacti native to the Americas. One
cllue is the forked spines found only in Euphorbia.
One first thinks of cacti when the word succulent comes up, and they are almost completely confined to the Americas. None occur in southern Africa. With some 1500 species of cacti, one might think the Americas would have the greatest collection of succulents. We can add to their numbers some 200 species of Agave and many members of the Crassulaceae, but in Africa, the role of succulent is filled with members of an even greater variety of families.
|Hoodia rushii (Asclepiadaceae) is a cactus-like|
member of the stapeliad group. This is the genus
from which a controversial appetite-suppressant
is obtained. [Note: the Asclepiadaceae is combined
with the Apocynaceae in some systems.]
|Pachypodium namaquensis (Apocynaceae) is|
related to Nerium oleander, periwinkle, and
It's hard to put a number to this collection, but I believe it exceeds the number of succulents in the new world. For example, the stapeliads consist of 29 genera, each with a number of species. The genus Stapelia alone has 55 species. Euphorbia consists of over 2000 species worldwide, and includes tiny herbs, trees, and about 1000 cactus-like succulents in Africa. The genus Aloe, all succulent and mostly native to Africa consist of 500 species, the Crassulaceae contains several hundred here, and so the number builds up. Aizoaceae, a family with succulent leaves contains 1782 species in Africa.
So I rest my case for southern Africa possessing the greatest treasure chest of succulents, and invite you to enjoy the pictures.
|Pelargonium spinosum is a spiny, succulent|
member of the large genus featured earlier in this
|This Agyroderma (Aizoaceae), like the related genus Lithops, |
typically maintain only two functional leaves that are half-
buried in the rocky soil, and have the common name of
|A stop at the Kokerboom Nursery, gave us a great preview of|
the native succulents of South Africa.
|Tylecodon paniculatus (Crassulaceae) is a|
common desert shrub in southern Africa.
|The attractive blossoms of Tylecodon paniculatus.|
This planter box features living stones and other members
of the Aizoaceae.
|Euphorbia mauritanica has slender succulent stems, and|
leaves during the rainy season.
|Euphorbia tuberculata; one of many cactus-like|
species in this genus.
|Orbea ciliata is a cactus-like member of the stapeliad|
group of the Asclepiadaceae.
|Sarcocaulon crassicaule is a succulent member of the Geraniaceae.|
|Aloe erinacea; a small, spiny member of|
this large African genus.
|Larryleachia cactiformis, a stapeliad with small, dark flowers.|
|Aloe pitchifolia at the Kokerboom Nursery.|
|Trichocaulon flavum, another stapeliad; note the milkweed-like|
follicles on the stem on the right.
|Eupohrbia clandetina; another succulent with|
|Wild Aloe dichotoma trees on a rocky hillside.|
The bark of Aloe dichotoma forms patches of different color.