torulosum E. M. Marais
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S. Afr. J. Bot. 56 (1990) 565-570.
Much branched decumbent shrublet, up to 160 mm tall when in flower, deciduous during summer. Stems succulent, moniliform (resembling a string of beads), mostly underground, initially green, later brown, thicker parts 7-12 mm in diameter.
Herbaceous, hirsute, lamina ovate to broadly ovate, 15-30 x 12-30 mm, bipinnately incised, segments oblong or linear, ca. 2 mm wide. Apices acute with a single straight hair, margins entire, petiole 20-35 mm long. Stipules free, subulate, 1.5-3 mm long.
A subterminal branched system of peduncles with 2-3 pseudo-umbels with bracts or small leaves at the point of branching. Peduncles 30-50 mm long, reddish green, pseudo-umbels with 4-8 flowers. Pedicel ca. 1 mm.
5, hypanthium 45-55 mm.
5, subequal, 16-17.5 x 4-6 mm, spathulate with rounded apices, cream to yellow, posterior two recurved at >90o, with feather-like wine-red markings, anterior three with linear markings.
4 fertile, protruding from the flower, two longer, two slightly shorter.
P. torulosum can be found near Matjiesfontein and around Sutherland, pictured here. Plants mostly grow sheltered beneath bushes and in cracks between rocks. The populations do not appear to be numerous, and it is easy to discard the plants as just another P. fissifolium, which grow on the plateau virtually everywhere. Other interesting hoareas found here are P. nervifolium, P. githagineum and P. luteopetalum. The Roggeveld plateau used to regularly receive snowfall, the exposed areas practically anytime of the year, though less so in the recent years. Climate change has kicked in.
The town of Sutherland is sadly not world-known because of pelargoniums but due to its state-of-the-art observatory. This is a remote area with little light pollution, elevated, and seizmically stable. Taking an afternoon off to visit the observatory is a must.
And stars there are in abundance! The southern sky is a surprise to anyone living in urbanised areas particularly in the northern hemisphere. We cannot be alone in this vast expanse.
E. M. Marais (1990).
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