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Asclepiad Files
The Genus Brachystelma (R. Br.)

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Brachystelma (R. Br.) Brachystelma tuberosum flowersbelongs to the Apocynaceae family.  There are over 100 described species in the genus.  Brachystelma was first described in 1822 by Robert Brown.  He described Brachystelma tuberosum which is the type species.

The genus is predominantly distributed in tropical and southern Africa, species are also found in Asia and India with a single species occurring in Australia. 

Plants in the Brachystelma genus usually have one or more subterranean tubers from which fleshy roots originate.  Although the tubers occur naturally underground in the wild many growers raise the tuber above the medium so that a caudex is formed.  This also helps prevent rot.  Foliar growth on Brachystelmas  occur annually in the summer months.  The stems may reach up to 60cm in height (Brachystelma christianae) or they may be prostrate like those of Brachystelma angustum.  The variable leaves and stems die back during the dry seasons.

Flowers have round corolla with five lobes that may be free or united at the tips.  The odour of the flowers vary from the overpowering stench of Brachystelma barberae to those that are indiscernible to the human nose (Brachystelma caffrum).

Robert Brown  first described the genus in 1822, he described Brachystelma tuberosum , the type species.