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The flowers appears in winter and may show greyish pink or greenish yellow outer petals within a single population.
Origin and Habitat: Knersvlakte, Vanrhynsdorp, Western Cape, South Africa. Extent of occourance 1100 km², Area of occourance less than 1100 km², with five to 10 locations known.
Habitat and ecology: Phyllobolus tenuiflorus grows in the winter rainfall region of succulent Karoo on quartzite outcrops. It is threatened by ongoing habitat loss to gypsum mining.
- Phyllobolus tenuiflorus (Jacq.) Gerbaulet
Phyllobolus tenuiflorus (Jacq.) Gerbaulet
Bull. Inst. Fondam. Afrique Noire, Sér. A., Sci. Nat. 119(2): 194 (1997)
- Phyllobolus tenuiflorus (Jacq.) Gerbaulet
- Mesembryanthemum tenuiflorum Jacq.
- Nycteranthus tenuiflorus (Jacq.) Schwantes
- Sphalmanthus tenuiflorus N.E.Br.
- Nycteranthus peersii (L. Bolus) Schwantes
- Aridaria peersii L. Bolus
- Sphalmanthus longitubus L. Bolus
- Sphalmanthus macrosiphon (L. Bolus) L. Bolus
- Sphalmanthus nanus L. Bolus
- Sphalmanthus olivaceus (Schltr.) L. Bolus
AFRIKAANS (Afrikaans): Vingerkanna
Description: Phyllobolus tenuiflorus, best known as Sphalmanthus tenuiflorus, is a very intereasting mesemb to 3 cm hight than develops with age a nice thick tuberous rootstock improperly called a caudex. Of particular interest are the leaves of P. tenuiflorus which may show watery translucent bubbles which are not droplets of water. They are water storage sacks (bladder cells) on the surface of the leaves. Plants have distinct growing and resting phases. The growing period starts after the rainy season (winter). During the resting phase (summer), the leaves dry away completely. The flowers appears in winter and may show greyish pink or greenish yellow outer petals within a single population.
Stems:** Woody throughout, internodes mostly short, flowering stems longer, weakly lignified but basally corky.
Leaves: Almost cylindrical, narrowly ovate, decussate (paired), becoming alternate in the inflorescence, deciduous, with large tipped or hair-like of P. tenuiflorus which may show , most prominently so on the receptacle and pedicels
Flowers: About 40 mm in diameter. Sepals 5. Petals greenish yellow to yellow or outer petals greyish pink and inner ones greenish yellow. Filamentous staminodes absent, reproductive parts concealed. Nectar glands present as five separate grooves.
Blooming season: It flowers after its resurgence in autumn ot early winter.
Fruits (capsules): 5-chambered, valve wings inflexed over the valves.
Seeds:*** Large for a mesemb, D-shaped, brown, testa rough, crest distinct.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Heidrun E.K. Hartmann “Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Aizoaceae F-Z” Springer Science & Business Media, 2002
2) Raimondo, D. 2008. Phyllobolus tenuiflorus (Jacq.) Gerbaulet. National Assessment: “Red List of South African Plants version” 2014.1. Accessed on 2014/07/14
3) Gideon Smith u.a. “Mesembs of the World: Illustrated Guide to a Remarkable Succulent Group.” Briza Publications, 1998
4) Hermann Jacobsen “A handbook of succulent plants: descriptions, synonyms, and cultural details for succulents other than Cactaceae, Volume 1” Blandford Press, 1960
5) Werner Rauh “The Wonderful World of Succulents:Cultivation and Description of Selected Succulent Plants Other Than Cacti” Smithsonian Institution Press, 1984
6) James Cullen, Sabina G. Knees, H. Suzanne Cubey “The European Garden Flora Flowering Plants: A Manual for the Identification of Plants Cultivated in Europe, Both Out-of-Doors and Under Glass” Cambridge University Press, 11/ago/2011
7) Gideon Smith u.a. (Hrsg.) "Mesembs of the World: Illustrated Guide to a Remarkable Succulent Group." Briza Publications, 1998
Phyllobolus tenuiflorus Photo by: K.k. Agrawal
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Cultivation and Propagation: Phyllobolus tenuiflorus is of easy cultivation and hardy. It has distinct growing and resting phases. The growing period starts after the rainy season (winter). During the resting phase (summer), the leaves dry away completely and leavess are shed. During this period the plants should be kept rather dry It is a particular favourite of caudiciform plant enthusiasts.
Growth rate: Plants grow slowly and caudex take many years to enlarge.
Caudex exposure: The remarkable tuberous rootstock (caudex) is usually raised above the soil line so that this can be seen and more readily appreciated. The plants raised from cuttings produce a bunch of tangled tuberose roots, while seed raised plants produce a more rounded tuber with age. For best results the tuber must be exposed only when plans become mature enough, usually after several years (8-12 or more years) of underground growth, as the exposed caudex will no longer increase in size once it has been lifted above the soil line. In very old plants, the tuber can achieve massive proportions, so keep a plant for many years to grow an unusually large caudex.
Watering: The plant will take some water and fertilizer in winter, but rot easily if overwatered. Damp and cool conditions are an invitation to fungal infections, but - according to temperatures –some regular watering may be useful. In summer keep on the dry side and water only enough to keep the tuber from shrivelling.
Potting medium: Since roots are quite succulent, use a cactus mix or add extra perlite or pumice to regular soil potting soil. A gritty, very free-draining compost is suitable, and clay pots help the plants to dry out between watering. Re-pot every 2 years.
Frost tolerance: Due to its African origin it can only tolerate light frost only if very dry and should be able to handle -5 degrees Celsius. Plants grown outdoors may endure relatively wet, cold rainy winters. It prefers sun or light shade, but the tuber should stay constantly in the shade.
Light: They prefer a very bright situation and in winter they need the maximum amount of light you are able to give them, but keep more cool and partially shaded in summer. The only exception to this is seedlings in their first year that enjoy a shades place. Such tiny plants can easily get scorched or broiled and their appearance spoiled. Outdoor they prefer full sun, with some shade in the hottest summer months. High levels of light are needed in autumn to flower and for good plant development. The low intensity of sun light during the growing season of this species generally prevents the white flower flowers from opening.
Special Advice: They are best planted in a sunny and airy part of the greenhouse, and not too close to the glass roof or sides of the house as the plants can overheat during hot spells.
Disease and pests: They are pest free outdoors, but mealy bugs occasionally feeds on pot grown specimens.
Rot: Rot it is only a minor problem with Phyllobolus if the plants are watered and “aired” correctly. If they are not, fungicides won't help all that much. It is very unlikely to lose this plant from root rot from excessive water. Reliable as a permanent collector's plant.
Propagation and planting: Plants may be propagated from seed or by careful division of older plants.
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