Petalidium giessii

Special species!! Sort of like Special Sauce but WAY, way better! Just take my word for it!

First specialness: GROOTBERG MOUNTAINS. I need not say more. Best geology in the world. GO THERE.

Second specialness (competes for first): ACANTHACEAE PRODUCE SWEET FLORAL ODORS IN THE OLD WORLD. It is true – so very true! And I aim to get Rob Raguso and his awesomeness on this, as soon as I am able and have the funding to do so.

I first spotted this species from ~75 meters away, while flying down the (dirt, major) highway. As soon as I opened my door, we were met with a flush of intense, sweet jasmine-like odor. I took one look at a blazing ball of yellowness some distance away from me and knew immediately that (a) it was a Petalidium and (b) it was responsible for that amazing fragrance.

Note to the non-Acanth user community: this family of plants is basically known to be odorless. I was blown away by the discovery.

Petalidum giessii is extremely restricted in its distribution… more or less limited to a ~100 km stretch as far as we can tell. And it is completely distinctive – no doubt that it is a “good” species. Also little doubt that it is a close relative of Petalidium luteo-album, but… I have been wrong before. Once, I think.

First couple of photos: admire the Grootbergs and the plant.

Close-up of the corolla photo: in full glory…. you can practically smell it from your computer.

Yet another photo: in fruit from the previous season… rains hadn’t yet arrived…. photographed shortly before I was attacked by a leopard at dusk. Not kidding. Scar on lower right calf to prove it….

And finally: discover of a new population of this remarkable species, while exiting the depths of the remote Ugab River valley (May 2014, with Essie, Leevi, David, Josephina, and Iain).

Wild collected, Namibia, Tripp & Dexter #825 (RSA-POM); Photo by Erin Tripp

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