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Origin and Habitat: Raphionacme globosa is a very widespread species coming from Angola, the Eastern and Northern Provinces of South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zaire, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Habitat and ecology: This species grows in a variety of habitats, often in the fissures of ferruginous rocks in thickets.
Raphionacme globosa (K.Schum.) K.Schum.
Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 17: 118 (1893)
Description: Raphionacme globosa is a caudiciform asclepiad with herbaceous non twining erect annual stems up to about 50 cm tall, growing from a swollen underground, globose rootstock (caudex), up to 20 cm in diameter. It is a widespread and very variable species with cream, salmon-pink, greenish, or brownish flower in terminal globose heads, hence the specific name. This member of the Asclepiadaceae family was described by K. Schumann in 1893.
Tuber (caudex): Roundish, up to 20 cm diameter, underground in the wild, often raised in cultivation.
Stem: Aerial shoot erect, simple, puberulous, leafy nearly to the apex.
Leaves: Arranged in an alternate or opposite position, distant, 6-14 cm long, 6-12 mm broad, on petioles 2-4 mm long, elongate-lanceolate or linear-lanceolate, minutely pubescent and slightly rough to the touch.
Flowers: In terminal globose heads 18 mm in diameter, on peduncles 6-36 mm long. Bracts 2-5 mm long, subulate or filiform. Pedicels 2-3 mm long, pubescent. Sepals 4-5 mm long, subulate from an ovate base, puberulous, ciliate. Corolla-tube 4-4.5 mm long, campanulate, with 5 small pockets within at the base, lobes 5 mm long, spreading, very minutely puberulous outside, white. Coronal-lobes arising at the mouth of the corolla-tube, divided into three filiform segments, the middle one 4 mmlong, the lateral about 2 mm long.
Fruits (follicles): One or two follicles per flower.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) N. E. Brown. “Raphiacme globosa” In: “Flora of Tropical Africa” Vol 4, 1904.
2) Focke Albers, Ulrich Meve “Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Asclepiadaceae: Asclepiadaceae”, Volume 4 Springer Science & Business Media, 2002
3) Françoise Malaisse “How to live and survive in Zambezian open forest (Miombo ecoregion)” Presses Agronomiques de Gembloux, 2010
4) Berthold Seemann “Journal of Botany: British and Foreign,” Volume 50, page 338 West, Newman & Company, 1912
5) Bihrmann's Caudiciforms contributors “Raphionacme globosa” <http://www.bihrmann.com/caudiciforms/subs/bra-nan-sub.asp> Web. 17 January 2016
Raphionacme globosa Photo by: Sándor Horváth
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Cultivation and Propagation: In cultivation the plants are usually grown in semi shade, with the tubers wholly or (preferably) partially exposed to prevent scorching and rotting of the roots. This plant can take a good deal of water during active growth and should be watered only when not dormant. Keep dryish in winter. It should be overwintered in the greenhouse at temperatures over 12°C (avoid letting temperatures drop lower than 5° C). Use a very draining but rich soil. An error in cultivation may produce unsightly holes in the tuber.
Food uses: This species has a large edible tuber. In West Africa the tuber and fruits are mainly eaten as a famine food. The flesh consists largely of carbohydrate matter.
Reproduction: This species can be reproduced by seeds.
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