Maybe we need to break up the geology posts a bit... although I finally discovered the world of geology bloggers... how did I miss that until now? So cool. Anyway.
I found a new source for my newest ... um... hobby: covering any sun-touched surface with a strange and wonderful menagerie of South African succulents. I'm getting better at recognizing members of the more common genuses, but species recognition is still beyond my grasp. As with lots of South African flora, these tiny plants are highly evolved for specific niches, many endemic to areas only meters or kilometers in size!
I'll start off our new "Succulent of the Week" program with the quintessential South African succulent - a tiny "stone plant", Lithops karasmontana. (I'm not 100% sure about the species ID but I'm sure some real succulent enthusiast will pick this up on their blogwatch and correct me if necessary!)
Tiny Lithops are only about 3cm across, with just two very fat leaves (Afrikaans for succulent is vetplant, literally "fat plant". Afrikaans just tells it like it is sometimes.) Once a year, a new pair of leaves will grow from the center and eventually overtake the old leaves which will die/be resorbed by the plant. Then a bright daisy-like flower will emerge from the crack between the two leaves and cover the plant like a little umbrella. After that - no water! During the dormant season.
I bought these beauties from a couple in Plumsted who grow succulents in their back yard - and sell them in their own handmade pots. Even I can see that the composition here is amazing. Thank you Chris & Annelise, I'll be back for more, for sure.
A while ago, I ordered some seeds online... things I wanted for the garden mostly (including some multi-coloured carrots which have sprouted!). On a whim, I tacked on a packet of mixed lithops seeds, no idea what species they are. The seeds are so tiny I could barely see them! Maybe a quarter of the size of a typical sand grain? Smaller than a foram? Smaller than a Cretaceous radiolarian. I gently sprinkled a few onto a surface of wetted cactus soil, covered it with a plastic bag, and waited. Here are the sprouts 15 days after "planting".
They will take 3-5 years to achieve the adult size you see above.