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Origin and Habitat: Western Cape (hills east of Oudtshoorn on the road to De Rust), South Africa.
Altitude range: 600 to 1000 meters above sea level.
Habitat and Ecology: Machairophyllum brevifolium grows in Succulent Karoo under shrubs in grass between rocks on red conglomerate hills. It is threatened by habitat degradation, erosion, grazing and trampling by livestock. The population trend is stable.
- Machairophyllum brevifolium L. Bolus
Machairophyllum brevifolium L. Bolus
Notes Mesembryanthemum [H.M.L. Bolus] 3: 126. 1938 [24 Mar 1938]
Description: Machairophyllum brevifolium is a nearly stemless, entirely glabrous, compact perennial succulents, with crowded leaves up to 3-5 cm tall and sometimes forming small mats, the centre of which dies off. Even in large clumps the side branches with short stem internodes normally do not form adventitious roots and are thus not anchored to the ground. The leaves are triangular in cross section, opposite with members of a pair almost equal and basally united to form a sheath 10-15 mm
long. M. brevifolium, as its name suggests, has short and rather wide leaves. Machairophyllum brevifolium was described by Harriet Margaret Louisa Bolus, published in Notes Mesembryanthemum 3: 126 1938.
Note: M. brevifolium and Machairophyllum latifolium are united as they are considered to differ only in minor characters, mainly in leaf width, which can vary rather widely in and between populations.
Leaves: Trigonous, lanceolate the upper part rhombic, sharply keeled, entire. 10-30 mm long, 10-26 mm wide, 12-15 mm thick, apically acute, apiculate, fused at base for about 8-10 mm. Epidermis smooth, stomata superficial, waxen in appearance, whitish green to green.
Inflorescences: Unbranched. Pedicels bracteate; bracteoles (7-(12-15(-23) mm long, connate for about 5-10 mm.
Flowers: Solitary, bright yellow inside,12-15 mm long, 30-45 mm across. Sepals 6, unequal, broadly triangular lanceolate, 8-14 mm long, 4-8 mm wide. Petals numerous, 3 or 4-seriate, 13-20 mm long, 1-2 mm wide, yellow. Stamens 9-10 mm long; filaments without conspicuous papillae at base; anther and pollen yellow. Ovary 6-carpellate, with many ovules per chamber. Nectar glands 6. Stigmas 6, filiform, 10-12 mm long.
Blooming season: The flowers opens in the afternoon or at night, and fully open 8 p.m., in spring and early summer ( August to November). Flowering was observed to be stimulated by previous burning of the habitat.
Fruit (loculicidal capsule): 6-locular, base funnel-shaped, sutures on top compressed,
valve rims diverging: valves about 3 x 4 mm, covering membranes translucent, valve wings with a lower half as broad as the expanding keels, ending in a narrow awn united with the awn of the expanding keel.
Seeds: Brown about 1 mm long.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Klak, C. & Raimondo, D. 2006. Machairophyllum brevifolium L.Bolus. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2015.1. Accessed on 2015/12/15
2) H. Kurzweil, P. Chesselet “Studies in the genus Machairopliyllum (Mesembryanthemaceae), with notes on some related genera” Bothalia; Vol 33, No 1 (2003), 19-39.
3) “The Flowering Plants of Africa”, Volumi 54-57 Botanical Research Institute, Department of Agricultural Technical Services, Republic of South Africa., 1995
4) Heidrun E.K. Hartmann “Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Aizoaceae F-Z” Springer Science & Business Media, 2002
5) Gibbs Russell, G. E., W. G. M. Welman, E. Retief, K. L. Immelman, G. Germishuizen, B. J. Pienaar, M. Van Wyk & A. Nicholas. 1987. "List of species of southern African plants." Mem. Bot. Surv. S. Africa 2(1–2): 1–152(pt. 1), 1–270(pt. 2).
6) Machairophyllum brevifolium. (2013, 2 de julio). Wikipedia, La enciclopedia libre. Fecha de consulta: 08:25, diciembre 16, 2015 desde https://es.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Machairophyllum_brevifolium&oldid=68083975.
Cultivation and Propagation: The plants in this genus represent some of the more easily cultivated succulent species. Their main growth period is in late winter and were heading for spring-summer dormancy, but they do best with at least a little water all year. Requires little water otherwise their epidermis breaks (resulting in unsightly scars). Water moderately from the middle of summer to the end of winter, and keep the compost almost dry when the plants are dormant. Water minimally in spring and summer, only when the plant starts shrivelling, but they will generally grow even in summer if given water. In areas prone to frost, grow in an intermediate greenhouse or conservatory, in pots of cactus compost, obtainable from good garden centres. Keep cool and shaded in summer, but provide maximum light the rest of the year. Remember that a sunny locality is best, otherwise they will not flower properly. However there are two ways to grow machairophyllums: The first is to let nature take her course, which means giving them large pots and copious water; they will burgeon into large masses of glistening green leaves. The other is to starve them into svelteness by hot summer droughts, small pots, and firm loam. The results can be very attractive. In any case it is best to treat them as late winter growers. May be susceptible to mealybugs.
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