Spiny Ruschia Ruschia spinosa
Order: Caryophyllales. Family: Aizoaceae (Mesembryanthemaceae)
Tankwa Karoo National Park
Plants in the Ruschia
genus are among the most striking, versatile and diverse of all succulents in the Aizoaceae family. Plants may vary from large, erect shrubs reaching 1.4 m, to dwarf, tufted and even mat-forming ground cover species. All plants possess mostly woody roots, which are situated very close to the soil surface. Branches are also woody and tough with short internodes that are often covered with dry leaves. There are some species that possess spines as protection against grazing animals. The flowers of Ruschia
vary from white to pink and purple. They very much resemble another genus, Lampranthus
, but the latter have much bigger flowers and more colour types. Members of Ruschia
are all very floriferous; flowers literally cover the entire plant. Flowering takes place throughout the year, reaching a peak in the autumn and spring. Flowers are diurnal (opening during the day) and sweet scented; the leaves are often bluish green, three-sided, sometimes with teeth along the edges and are nearly always stippled with darker, transparent dots which is an interesting feature in the genus.Description
The spinescent shrublet Ruschia spinosa
reaches 0.3 m tall. Leaf succulent shrub with sharp, branched spines on dry seed heads. Leaves 3-sides, green turning red in hot, dry conditions. They are opposite and joined in pairs, forming a sleeve base for the next pair to emanate from.
Flowers purple, smallish, prolific in August-September following wet winters.
Capsule with 5 lobes. Seeds very small (0.3 mm) dispersed by raindrop splash when capsules open in wet conditions.Distribution
Namibia and South Africa (Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Western Cape).Habitat
Clay-rich soils of plains in Succulent and Nama Karoo. Widespread, except in grassy areas. This species is well adapted to very harsh conditions.