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Origin and Habitat: South Africa, Eastern Cape (Great Karoo from Aberdeen and Graaff-Reinet southwards to Rietbron and eastwards to Willowmore, Klipplaat and Steytlerville)
Habitat and Ecology: Hoodia pilifera subsp. annulata occurs on areas between low hills on slightly gravelly ground, rarely on hill slopes, usually as widely scattered individuals, there are often several hundred meters between plants, occasional substantial colonies do exist. Ihis species is potentially threatened by harvesting as it may be misidentified as Hoodia gordonii, however there is no substantive evidence of current decline to the population.
- Hoodia pilifera subs. annulata (N.E.Br.) Bruyns
Hoodia pilifera subs. annulata (N.E.Br.) Bruyns
Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 115(2): 235. 1993 [15 Oct 1993]
- Hoodia pilifera subs. annulata (N.E.Br.) Bruyns
Hoodia pilifera (L.f.) Plowes
Asklepios 56: 10 (1992)
- Hoodia pilifera (L.f.) Plowes
Hoodia pilifera subs. pillansii (N.E.Br.) Bruyns
Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 115(2): 238. 1993 [15 Oct 1993]
- Hoodia pilifera subs. pillansii (N.E.Br.) Bruyns
- Hoodia grandis (N.E.Br.) Plowes
- Trichocaulon grande N.E.Br.
- Hoodia pilifera subs. pillansii var. major
- Trichocaulon pillansii var. major N.E.Br.
ENGLISH: purple ghaap
Description: Hoodia pilifera subsp. annulata, formerly know as Trichocaulon annulatum is, a leafless fat-stemmed succulent plant branching at the base 15-45 cm high and up to 2 metres in diameter. The stems are erect, columnar, studded with tubercles, in twenty to thirty rows.
Distinguishing features: This subspecies is distinguished by the very prominent raised annulus at the centre of its dark purplish brown, foul-smelling flowers.
Stems: Light glaucous-green or grey-green, 3-5 cm thick, cylindrical in shape , carried erectly, branched and rebranched mainly mainly from the base of the stems, with 20–30 vertical series of conical tubercles tipped with stiff light-brown (darker when young) bristles 3-6 mm long.
Flowers: The flowers are solitary or in small inflorescences with up to 3 flowers, densely arranged along the upper parts of the stems, subsessile, or with a short pedicel less than 1 mm long, in the grooves between the tubercles; sepals 2-3 mm long, basally 1.5 mm, subulate-acuminate from a broadly ovate base, glabrous. Corolla reddish-purple to dark purplish brown, turning to greenish towards the flowers bottom, 15-30 mm in diameter, rotate, lobed to less than half-way down, with a very prominent raised annulus forming a cup enclosing the corona on the disk, otherwise without a distinct tube, smooth and glabrous on the back, densely covered with conical papillae all over the very dark purple-brown inner surface, except at the bottom of the cup around the corona, most of them with a minute hair directed at a right angle from their apex; lobes 5 mm long, 8-9 mm broad, very spreading, very broadly deltoid-ovate, shortly cuspidate-acute, appressed to the stem, with recurved margins; outer corona large, nearly 4 mm high, rising almost to the level of the rim of the cup, glabrous, very dark purple-brown, cup-like at the base, with 5 rather broad lobes, divided above their erect concave basal part into two sublanceolate diverging and obliquely recurved-spreading teeth 1.5 mm long and 1.5 mm broad; inner corona-lobes about 1 mm long, linear or deltoid-linear, obtuse, dark-purple brown, closely incumbent on the backs of the anthers and equalling or slightly exceeding and incurved over their tips.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Hoodia pilifera group
- Hoodia pilifera (L.f.) Plowes: (subsp. pilifera) flowers purple-brown almost black and without a ring (annulus), up to 20 mm in diameter. Distribution: Eastern Cape, Western Cape.
- Hoodia pilifera subs. annulata (N.E.Br.) Bruyns: flowers dark purple to black, 20-30 mm in diameter, with spreading lobes.
- Hoodia pilifera subs. pillansii (N.E.Br.) Bruyns: flowers yellow to pinkish, without the raised rim (annulus) as in the other subspecies.
Notes: It is easy to confuse Hoodia pilifera subsp. annulata with a species of cactus when it is observed for the first time. The plants grow as large clumps not unlike those formed by the cactus Echinopsis spachiana, which is naturalised in parts of the habitat of Hoodia pilifera subsp. annulata.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) N. E. Brown “Flora Capensis”, Vol 4, page 518, (1909)
2) Focke Albers, Ulrich Meve “Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Asclepiadaceae” Volume 4 Springer, 2002
3) Victor, J.E. & Nicholas, A. 2009. Hoodia pilifera (L.f.) Plowes subsp. annulata (N.E.Br.) Bruyns. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2015.1. Accessed on 2015/11/24
4) Bruyns, P.V. “A revision of Hoodia and Lavrania (Asclepiadaceae-stapelieae).” Botanische Jahrbücher für Systematik 115(2):145-270.1993.
5) Bruyns, P.V. “Stapeliads of southern Africa and Madagascar.” (Vol. 1, pp. 1-330). Umdaus Press, Pretoria. 2005.
6) Gideon Smith, Ben-Erik Van Wyk “The Garden Succulents Primer” Timber Press, 2008
7) Thomas H. Everett “The New York Botanical Garden Illustrated Encyclopedia of Horticulture”, Volume 10 Taylor & Francis, 1982
Cultivation and Propagation: This is one of easiest species to grow but prone to root rot due to overwaterings and lack of fresh air. Water normally in the growing season, sparsely in the winter. It is usually recommended to over-winter them in warm conditions (at 10° C), but despite their African origins they seem to grow well and flower without the extra heat which one might have thought necessary, and occasional temperatures near 0°C (or less). are tolerated, if kept dry.
Spring: In the spring leaving them out in the rain may provide them with the water they need.
Summer: In the summer months they will grow well in full sun or partial shade and tolerate heavy rain, but will be just as happy if the season is dry.
Potting medium: Since roots are quite shallow, a gritty, very free-draining compost with extra perlite or pumiceis suitable, and clay pots help the plants to dry out between watering. Indoors only in brightest position,
Uses: In its native country of South Africa it is referred to by the indigenous people Khoi-San herders as “ghaap”, “guaap”, “or ngaap” were they use it as a convenient emergency food and moisture source in harsh arid environments. Hoodia pilifera has an insipid, yet cool and watery taste. The plant is edible in its raw state or preserved in sugar. The young pod are liked for their sweetnees.
Similarly to Hoodia gordoni and several other succulents known as carrion flowers or stapeliads this species can be used as an appetite and thirst suppressant. A small piece of the stem is peeled to remove the thorns and is eaten fresh. The optimal dose is not yet known.
Propagation: Propagation is done mainly from seed. Cuttings are not really an option, as the severed ends very rarely form a callus from where roots will eventually form. Seeds are produced in March and April of each year (Europe). The seed horns must be semi-dry and starting to split down the middle before seed can be collected. If you try to take a cutting allows it to dry several days before planting.
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