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Origin and Habitat: South Namibia, and north-western Republic of South Africa (Little Namaqualand)
Habitat and ecology: It grows in very arid areas often beneath large Aloe dichotoma trees.
Piaranthus cornutus N.E.Br.
Fl. Cap. (Harvey) 4: I. 1018 (1909)
- Piaranthus cornutus N.E.Br.
- Piaranthus decorus var. cornutus (N.E.Br.) Meve
- Piaranthus cornutus var. grandis N.E.Br.
- Piaranthus nebrownii Dinter
- Piaranthus pulcher var. nebrownii (Dinter) A.C.White & B.Sloane
- Piaranthus pallidus C.A.Lückh.
- Piaranthus pulcher N.E.Br.
Piaranthus cornutus var. mennellii (C.A.Lückh.) Plowes
Bradleya 32: 134. 2014
Piaranthus cornutus var. ruschii (Nel) Bruyns
Stapeliads S. Africa Madagascar 2: 365. 2005
Description: Piaranthus cornutus, the 'Horned Piaranthus' from the prominent corona lobes in the middle of the flower, is a clumping and prostrate species that spread over the ground forming large cushions of short-jointed brownish-green stems. The starfish-like flowers form in small bunches at the tips of the young stems, brownish-yellow, pale yellowish, or whitish on the inner face and heavily mottled with dark red.
Taxonomy: This is plant is often placed together with Piaranthus decorus (Piaranthus decorus subsp. cornutus), but the corona is quite different. Piarnthus decorus has outer corona lobes incumbent on the anthers with extremely large deeply furrowed crests, in Piaranthus cornutus the outer-corona lobes are erect and the crests are more delicate.
Stems: Procumbent or ascending, 1.5-5 (or under cultivation up to 8) cm long, 12-18 mm thick, globose, ovoid, oblong or cylindrical, very obtusely 4-angled, with 3–5 tubercle-like teeth along the angles, greyish- or glaucous-green often becoming brownish-green in full sun.
Flowers: 1- to several, but usually in pairs, above the middle or at the tips of the stems, erect, scentless or with sweetish odour of decaying fruits. Pedicels (4-)6-12(-18) mm long, 1-1.5 mm thick, glabrous. Sepals 2-4 mm long, lanceolate, acute, glabrous. Corolla 15-28 mm in diameter, very deeply lobed, without a distinct tube. Corolla lobes about c 10 mm long, 3-5 mm broad at the base, more or less free, lanceolate, acuminate, often some-what ascending (at an angle of ± 30°), tips often re-curved, glabrous on the back, velvety-puberulous on the inner face, brownish-yellow, pale yellowish, or whitish, with purple, crimson or brown dots, patches or tranverse bands (rarely with-out pattern), densely hairy. Hairs conical, white to purple-brown, 0.1-1 mm long. Corona 2.5-3(-3.5) x 3.5-4.7 mm. Outer corona-lobes about 1.2-2 mm long, 0.5-0.8 mm thick, narrowly linear-lanceolate or lanceolate-subulate, incumbent at the base upon the backs of the anthers and produced beyond them into connivent-erect acute tips, dorsally produced at the base into a subquadrate crest, 0.8-1.5 mm broad, truncate and tuberculate-denticulate at the top, yellow, without markings. Pollinia 0.45-0.6 x 0.28-0.35 mm.
Fruits (paired follicles): About 10 cm long.
Seeds: Mostly 5 x 3 mm.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Piaranthus cornutus group
- Piaranthus cornutus N.E.Br.: flowers brownish-yellow, pale yellowish, or whitish on the inner face heavily mottled with dark red and with with dense white hairs. Distribution: South Namibia, and north-western South Africa.
- Piaranthus cornutus var. ruschii (Nel) Bruyns: Flowers greenish yellow with dense white hairs white hairs (usually unspotted). Distribution: Southern Namib, Namibia.
- Piaranthus pulcher N.E.Br.: Has bright clear greenish-yellow flowers, marked all over with small rounded dark purple-brown spots. Distribution: South Africa, Little Namaqualand.
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: Asclepiadaceae” Volume 4 Springer Science & Business Media, 2002
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