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The plants today suggest that we are heading in the right direction. Reading various books, leaflets and information on websites I have learned that we have entered the West Coast Karoo, that stretches from Luderitz, south throgh Namibia and Southern Africa. This ecoregion has been subdivided into two zones, the Namaqualand-Namib domain that we had now entered and the Southern Karoo  domain that we would visit later before returning to Cape Town.

Not only did I have to become familiar with a huge number of taxa that were new to me, but also with eco-geographical names that are usually not mapped on the road maps that we carry. These domains are subdivided again into Regions and we found ourselves in the most northern one – the Sperrgebiet, most of which is taken over by diamond mining and is not accessible to the public. The number of succulent plant taxa that occur is mind boggling and seems to vary as a precise number depending on who you follow. One source states that ‘the region is host to, about half of the world’s 10’000 succulent species. About 67 genera and 1,940 species are endemic to this ecoregion’.  Despite the many images we took, we hardly scratched the surface, sticking perhaps to those plants that we are familiar with in Europe and in California. In Europe this tends to mean smaller plant that have to be grown indoors or in a greenhouse, where space is at a premium.

I have selected a few images of plants that I am familiar with or that intrigue me, even though I can’t name them, in some cases, not even the plant Family that they belong to. Enjoy, and do suggest names where you have a fairly firm idea of what they might be.

For the first stop of the day we became ‘normal’ tourists and visited Kolmanskop, a ghost town, frozen in time. In 1908 the first diamond in this area was found here and attracted many people to create the small town in typical style – this was a German colony at the time. After World War 1, the diamond supply became exhausted and in 1958 operations closed down, allowing the wind and sands to reclaim the village. The following two images show succulent plants that have benefitted from this desertification. I can’t even pin them down to a Plant Family. The website iSpot came to my help and suggested Brownanthus marlothii for one of them. A quick look in Mesembs of the World confirms that this is an excellent match. Thank you.

S2639 Genus sp

S2639 – Brownanthus marlothii

S2639 - Kolmanskop Ghost town

S2639 – Kolmanskop Ghost town

At the next stop, S2640, near by, things became a bit more fair in that the Sarcocaulons were in leaf and flower.

S2640 Sarcocaulon sp

S2640 – Sarcocaulon patersonii

I had a copy of the excellent Bushman Candles book by the late Charles Craib and John Lavranos and as a result I hazard a guess for the name: Sarcocaulon or Monsonia patersonii. These really are tough customers, as they were flowering in a very strong wind (we were wearing coats & jumpers again and running after hats that had been blown off) while being blasted by quite large sand particles. How do such delicate paper thin flower petals survive that?

S2641 was a revelation – we were back in plant land. Here are just a few.:

S2641 - Litops optica

S2641 – Lithops optica

S2641 Argyroderma sp

S2641 – Crassula elegans subsp. namibensis

[I had provisionally identified the plant above as an Argyroderma sp, but Derek Tribble has since suggested Crassula elegans subsp. namibensis which I’m happy to accept. If ever I need to give a talk about parralel evolution, this and an Argyroderma sp. will be a good example. Thanks Derek!]

S2641 - Conophytum sp

S2641 – Conophytum sp

I was really taken with the next plant, without any idea of an ID. Then while browsing through the Bushman Candles book, there it was, in the Photography in habitat chapter!

S2641 - Tylecodon shaefferianus

S2641 – Tylecodon shaeferianus

So that should be another tick on the list of identified plants – if I got it right!

No plants were photographed at S2642, at the Dias Point National Monument – a) there were none to be seen and b) I was afraid that my camera would be blown clean out of my hands!

So we had time for another stop on the way back to the hotel, and saw these nice plants in flower:

S2643 Geraniaceae sp

S2643 Geraniaceae sp

S2643 Mesemb shrub

S2643 Mesemb shrub

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