Plant of the Month – Jan 2018

Tylecodon cacalioides (Tolken 1978)
(Krismisnenta, Krimpsiektebos)

This plant is flowering profusely as this article is being written. We are just not used to seeing such beautiful, intensely colored flowers on succulent plants during the summer months. If you are driving between Oudtshoorn and George in the month of January, you will see them on both sides of the road.

The plants have upright, branching stems that tend to be hairy when young. The plants grow to about 50 cm tall. The inflorescence (to 55 cm tall) carry bunches of flowers that are described as sulfur-yellow in color. They are very bright against the desert scrub of our local veld.

Tylecodon cacalioides occurs primarily in the Klein Karoo. Farmers have been removing them from fields for hundreds of years as they are poisonous to herbivores. As is the case with some of this genus the plants shed their leaves for the summer period. They have no leaves then, when flowering, much like the larger T. paniculatus (Botterboom) and others.

There is a similar plant that has a wider habitat from Namaqualand through the Klein Karoo, Tylecodon walichii, which is nearly identical to T cacalioides except for the flower color which is a greenish-yellow.

Look for this plant when driving anywhere in our local area. The main pollinator is considered to be this long-proboscid horse-fly.


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