Kyle and I first saw Petalidium lanatum adjacent to our first living, in-situ Welwitschia, if that tells you anything. Yep — the Namib Desert. Home to some of the most intense sand storms on Earth, and where decades pass without a millimeter of rain. You think you have it bad?
Sister species of (or, err, maybe synonymous with) Petalidium halimoides — check that page out.
For a plant with such a gnarly attitude, it sure has precious, innocent, tiny red flowers. Note the infructescence that has become woody and spiny with age (yes, just like you).
Subsequent photos: I need you to pay close attention to this. Photo was taken just as we entered the true Namib Desert. This plant looks absolutely toasted – DEAD. A skeleton of sorts, like all those ship wrecks on the Atlantic coast of the desert. But: WRONG! You’d be wrong wrong wrong if you guessed it, just as I did. This plant is actually quite alive. perhaps just a leaf or two per branch, but: that counts as ALIVE… and it was even flowering. This species can hold its own with any pirate.
Scope out the tap root: even longer than that of P. halimoides. That thing is decades old, to be sure..
In the last photo you can see it dominating the landscape (as it is wont to do).
Wild collected, Namibia, Tripp & Dexter #879 (RSA-POM); Photo by Erin Tripp
Wild collected, Namibia, Tripp & Dexter #4108 (RSA-POM); Photo by Erin Tripp
Wild collected, Namibia, Tripp & Dexter #4112 (RSA-POM); Photo by Erin Tripp