Plant of the Month – Dec 2017

Delosperma calitzdorpense
L. Bolus 1950

If the name strikes a familiar tone, it is because this plant is known to occur near our town of Calitzdorp. We found a large number of them in the veld near Jakkalskop on our explorations with Priscilla Burgoyne in preparation for the Discovering Mesembs workshop recently.

The plants are smallish shrubs with woody stems to 25 cm tall and double width. The leaves are normally greyish in color, but after our recent rains, many of the plants have become much more green. Leaves up to 15mm in length and are pubescent (hairy). Flowers are white and about 20mm in width with creamy-yellow colored centers.

It is amazing to finally get to know at least one of the mesemb shrubs. In the place
where it is growing, it is the dominant plant. For about 100 meters along the road on both sides, that is all there is. SANBI estimates that more than 50% of the entire
population of D. calitzdorpense has been eliminated in recent years due to farming activities. For that reason and he fact that the known habitat is so limited, this is a red-listed endangered species.

They are relatively easy to grow. We collected a number of seed capsules under the permit of Garden Route Botanical Garden and we have sown quite a number of them. It is our hope that we can get them established in members’ gardens and that they will spread to the veld. Kind of a reverse of the destruction of habitat that has been going on and invading plants back to their normal place in the veld.

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