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Mesembs | Images & Info | Conophytum | Breakdown| Cataphracta Group

CATAPHRACTA Schwantes ex S.A. Hammer
from Greek, meaning "covered with mail"

  • Knersvlakte
  • Sandveld
  • Namaqualand
  • Bushmanland.


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Species in CATAPHRACTA group: (Type: Conophytum herreanthus S.A. Hammer nom. nov.)

  • Conophytum breve
  • Conophytum calculus
  • Conophytum calculus ssp vanzylii
  • Conophytum pageae
  • Conophytum stevens-jonesianum

This particular group has been given the name CATAPHRACTA because of  the encrusted, well-fortified epidermis.Plants have a distinctive white opacity.  Unclear affinities, golden petals suggest a connection with the more primitive diurnul species (no other nocturnal conophytums display such rich colouring in their flowers).  Several of the CATAPHRACTA populations have "lost" their yellowish pigment.

Description of plants in the CATAPHRACTA group:

The plants appear stemless, globose leaves are very firm and wholly fused but never windowed.  The epidermis is glabrous, unspotted or spotted.  Leaves are chalky-green to sky-blue or pinkish-gray in colour.  There is a notable opaque layer that cover the epidermis (thick crystal layer).  The fissure is glabrous, elevated or inflated and ringed seasonally with red.  The sheaths are thick, whitish in colour and often heavily stained and spotted with brown tannins.

Description of flowers and capsules in the CATAPHRACTA group:

The flowers are nocturnal and sharply scented, a clove-like smell.  Petals strongly coloured yellow to red, rarely pink, cream or white.  The stigmas are short and quite thick.  Capsules are flattish, dark and tanniniferous.  Seeds germinate quickly, they're uniform, the cotyledons are globose, smooth and blank-looking.  The seedlings have a short juvenile phase, less than a year, they can flower 2 - 3 years after germination.

Reference:  S.A. Hammer, "The Genus Conophytum A Conograph", Succulent Plant Publications 1993.


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