ISI 2010-19. Delosperma oehleri (Engler) Herre

A few collectable mesembs range beyond the South African center of distribution for the iceplant family (Aizoaceae). Delosperma oehleri is one that was discovered in 1906 but was then lost to cultivation. Peter Bally collected it at a different locality about 1940 but took it to be a magenta-flowered form of D. nakurense. In the Flora of Tropical Africa (1961) C. Jeffrey’s account cited only the original collection at Kew and stated that “efforts should be made to relocate and conserve this rare plant”. After considerable taxonomic and geographic sleuthing, H. Hartmann and Len Newton (see the Cactus and Succulent Journal 63: 191 - 193, 1991) have conducted the necessary field work to do just that. The species produces trailing stems that root adventitiously. These roots gradually swell, like the original taproot, and can be exposed in caudiciform fashion. The half-inch-wide flowers are rich magenta with a paler throat that expands as the flower ages resulting in a tricolor display of magenta with a white center surrounding a yellow brush of stamens. Rooted cuts of HBG 85672, a plant originally collected in 1985 by Len Newton (LEN 3007) on Esupetai Hill, southwest Kenya. $7.

Photo © 2010 by Karen Zimmerman. Images may not be used elsewhere without permission.

Published in the Cactus and Succulent Journal, Vol. 82 (2), March - April, 2010