This may be my final post before heading over the ocean to Montreal next week. I will schedule some B&W photos to keep things ticking over whilst I am mainlining Maple syrup.
Meanwhile, here is a Friday geeky plant post:
A month ago I wrote a post about Lithops (Builder’s Bums in my wife’s parlance). This is kind of a sequel to that, though I realise this blog risks turning into the botanical equivalent of the Benny Hill show or a Carry On movie. At least I am not (yet) featuring Argyroderma testiculare or Clitoria ternata (there are clues in the names).
Whilst Lithops fascinate me, the closely related Conophytum are far more variable in size, shape, markings, hairiness and flower colour. Unlike Lithops they are winter-growers which makes their management a little trickier.
Very broadly they can be divided into two large groups of species:
- the species that flower in day time and have much more showy flowers with no scent.
- the species which flower at night and are highly scented but usually have small and less pretty flowers – no point using visual attraction to moth pollinators at night time.
Having said that, there are some species which I think have a foot in both camps. Conophytum ficiforme has highly scented but attractive flowers that stay at least partially open in daytime.
It is also noticeable that the nocturnal species tend to have the more exotically hairy or spotty bodies. Kind of like students in many respects.
Do I have a favourite? Probably Conophytum angelicae ssp tetragonum with its wonderful sculpted leaves like Klingon foreheads and tiny but incredibly scented flowers at night time.
One species is one of the smallest flowering plants in the world. Conophytum achabense has usually solitary pea-sized bodies which are mostly underground in habitat, only the match-head size tip is exposed. Almost impossible to find except when it produces its unfeasibly large flower. In a twist of nature’s irony – this species has the largest seeds in the genus.
Here are some pictures of leaf surface textures:
There are hairy species in both the daytime and nocturnal flowering species. Here are the nocturnal C. stephanii and the daytime C. mirabile:
C. stephanii has small brown nocturnal flowers but the flowers of C. mirabile are rather prettier:
Another favourite is the very aptly named Conophytum cubicum:
Finally a collage of flowering plants: