I sort of have a thing for this plant. It’s true. Not quite like the Roger Federer thing, but…
I would put up some Vegas chips on hypothesis that this is among the top 100 hardiest species of plants in the world. Well, together with Petalidium lanatum (no doubt its sister species, or maybe I should sink the latter into the former….). Petalidium halimoides is also an opportunist. Above, you see it in several contexts: lush-ish fields and extremely dry, vegetation-less soils of the Namib Desert. Yep – it does it all. Something to aspire to.
First photo: check out the stellate trichomes that you can see with naked eye.
Second photo: check out the Martian taproot.
Third photo: Kyle doing his amazing thing. And note plant abundance. Petalidium halimoides dominates many landscapes, including much of the Kaokoveld.
Fourth photo: Look at those amazing fruiting heads (=infructescences) that the Lucinda McDade-ster is holding (also note her awesome plaid shirt). These fruiting heads become woody and spiny with age… just like the rest of us.
Seed predation is such a huge debacle in ultra-arid deserts that my personal hypothesis is: this ‘head-like’ morphology evolved as a means of protecting most (but not all) of your seed crop. Could be experimentally tested.
In the last photo, have a gander at the super special growth form. Sprawling and with giant head-like inflorescences. Sort of makes you want to just give it a hug.
Wild collected, Namibia, Tripp & Dexter #833, 1990, & 1965 (RSA-POM); Photo by Erin Tripp
Wild collected, Namibia, Tripp, McDade & Dexter #4077 (RSA-POM); Photo by Erin Tripp