South Africa represents one of the most extreme plant biomes in the world.  The region’s location at the junction of the Atlantic and Indian Ocean, coupled with extremely varied topography, has created an array of climates; from the Southern Namib Desert, to the Mediterranean-like climate along the coast.

Stone plants, or Lithops (Aizoaceae) are perhaps the best-known South African plant.  This family of plants is quite ubiquitous around the world, however only in South Africa have species taken on the appearance of small pebbles in the desert.  Perhaps their strangest characteristic is their brown or creamy white appearance, yet they are still photosynthetic - not all plants are green.

    • Aizoaceae
    • Lithops sp.

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
    • Aizoaceae
    • Lithops lesliei cv. albinica

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
    • Aizoaceae
    • Lithops pseudotruncatella

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
    • Aizoaceae
    • Lithops julii

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
    • Aizoaceae
    • Lithops helmutti

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
    • Aizoaceae
    • Lithops dorotheae

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
    • Aizoaceae
    • Lithops hookeri

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
    • Aizoaceae
    • Lithops fulviceps

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
    • Aizoaceae
    • Lithops aucampiae v. euniceae

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
    • Aizoaceae
    • Lithops naureeniae

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
    • Aizoaceae
    • Lithops schwantesii v. triebneri

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
    • Aizoaceae
    • Lithops lesliei v. venteri

    • Aizoaceae
    • Lithops gesinae v. annae

    • Aizoaceae
    • Lithops lesliei v. rubrobrunnea

    • Aizoaceae
    • Lithops bromfieldii v. mennellii

    • Aizoaceae
    • Lithops salicola 'Maculate form'

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
    • Aizoaceae
    • Lithops fulviceps v. fulviceps

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
    • Aizoaceae
    • Lithops aucampiae v. eunceae

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In the Amaryllidaceae family (those bulb things your mom gets around Christmas time with the big flowers), is the very strange species Scadoxus multiflorus.  This type of inflorescence is called umbellate, where a single stalk bears flowers from a single point, and is very typical of the Amaryllidaceae family.  Clearly S. multiflorus takes it to a whole new level.

    • Amaryllidaceae
    • Scadoxus multiflorus

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
    • Amaryllidaceae
    • Scadoxus multiflorus

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
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Think of passion fruit and the first thing that comes to mind is definitely not a plant that grows in the desert.  However, in the genus Adenia, part of the passion fruit family (Passifloriaceae), most species have developed an enlarged lower stem, or caudex, used to store water in extremely arid conditions.  Many species’ sap contain cyanogenic compounds and are very toxic.  Adenia are native to mostly the dry xeric coats of Eastern Africa, and some species extend down to South Africa.

    • Passifloraceae
    • Adenia glauca

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
    • Passifloraceae
    • Adenia spinosa

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
    • Passifloraceae
    • Adenia glauca

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
    • Passifloraceae
    • Adenia stylosa

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
    • Passifloraceae
    • Adenia stylosa

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
    • Passifloraceae
    • Adenia olaboensis

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
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In the Asparagaceae family there are the two genera Haworthia and Gasteria.  They are common houseplants, but from an evolutionary point of view, these plants show remarkable adaptations to living in the desert, - succulent tissues, thorns, and an enlarged cuticle.  Together they resemble cacti, but remember, cacti are native only to the Western Hemisphere. 

    • Asparagaceae
    • Haworthia sp.

    • Photo Credit: Jacob Golan
    • Asparagaceae
    • Haworthia nebrowni

    • Photo Credit: Jacob Golan
    • Asparagaceae
    • Haworthia neediana

    • Photo Credit: Jacob Golan
    • Asparagaceae
    • Haworthia pallida

    • Photo Credit: Jacob Golan
    • Asparagaceae
    • Haworthia cymbiformis

    • Photo Credit: Erika Reiter
    • Asparagaceae
    • Haworthia limifolia

    • Photo Credit: Erika Reiter
    • Asparagaceae
    • Haworthia venosa

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
    • Asparagaceae
    • Haworthia altilinea

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
    • Asaparagaceae
    • Haworthia cymbiformis

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
    • Asparagaceae
    • Haworthia setata

    • Photo Credit: Jacob Golan
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    • Asparagaceae
    • Gasteria sp.

    • Photo Credit: Jacob Golan
    • Asparagaceae
    • Gasteria disticha

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
    • Asparagaceae
    • Gasteria nigricans

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
    • Asparagaceae
    • Gasteria brachyphylla

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
    • Asparagaceae
    • Gasteria sp.

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
    • Asparagaceae
    • Gasteria sp.

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
    • Asparagaceae
    • Gasteria sp.

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
    • Asparagaceae
    • Gasteria caespitosa

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
    • Asparagaceae
    • Gasteria verrucosa

    • Photo Credit: Jacob Golan
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Page by Jacob Golan 

 
  • Equisetaceae
  • Fabaceae
  • Commeliniaceae
  • Ericaceae
  • Araceae
  • Begoniaceae
  • Araceae
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