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Origin and Habitat: South West Africa: Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, and Mpumalanga).
Altitude range: 350 - 1900 metres above sea level.
Habitat and ecology: This species grows in grassland and open woodland.
- Raphionacme procumbens Schltr.
Description: Raphionacme procumbens is a perennial caudiciform asclepiad with herbaceous, procumbent annual hairy stems up to about 40 cm long, arising from a swollen underground, globose rootstock (caudex), up to 15 cm in diameter. Leaves are opposite, in well-spaced intervals, ovate and woolly-hairy. The deciduous flowers are small, star-shaped, green with purple trifid outer corona lobes at the centre, and are born in dense terminal globose heads.
Derivation of specific name: 'procumbens' (Latin), prostrate. A prostrate herb with stems lying along the ground; procumbent.
Tuber (caudex): Sub-spherical tuber, up to 15 cm in diameter, underground in the wild, often raised in cultivation.
Stem: Aerial shoot few to many, procumbent, branching at the base. Branches 15-40 cm long, softly villous-pubescent, brownish.
Leaves: Simple, arranged in an alternate or opposite position, in well-spaced intervals. Petiole 2-8 mm long. Lamina 2.5-7 cm long, 6-7 mm broad, narrowly oblong, oblong-lanceolate or elliptic-lanceolate, acute or obtuse and apiculate, leathery, dark green and velvety above with rather long soft spreading hairs, pale green and more densely velvety beneath, the margins entire. Petiole 3-13 mm long, velvety.
Inflorescences: Numerous, subglobose cymes in the upper leaf axils, about 12 mm in diameter, rather densely many-flowered, pendent on recurved or spreading, densely velvety. Peduncles 4-10 mm long, shortly villous-pubescent on all parts to the outside of the corolla. Bracts 2-3 mm long, subulate. Pedicels 2.5-3 mmlong, curved. Sepals 2.5-3 mm long, sometimes united into a short tube at the base, ovate-lanceolate, acuminate. Corolla-tube 1 mm long. Corolla lobes, green to greenish-yellow, maroon or violet at the base about 2.5-4 mm long, 1.5-2 mm broad, lanceolate or oblong-lanceolate, obtuse, with slightly incurved margins, glabrous on the inner face. Corona reddish to purple, fleshy, papillose, 3-segmented. Corona-lobes arising at the mouth of the corolla-tube, trifid, with the middle tooth scarcely 2 mm long and 3–4 times as long as the lateral teeth, but shorter than the anthers, which are connivent into an acute cone 1 mm long, with connate tips.
Blooming season: Summer (October- January).
Fruits (follicles): A single pendulous follicle, ovoid, 3.5- 4.5 cm long, pointed.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) N. E. Brown. “Raphiacme procumbens” In: “Flora of Tropical Africa” Vol 4, 1904.
2) Foden, W. & Potter, L. 2005. "Raphionacme procumbens Schltr." National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2015.1. Accessed on 2016/01/17
3) Mapaura, A. & Timberlake, J. (eds) “A checklist of Zimbabwean vascular plants” Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 33 Sabonet, Pretoria and Harare Page 67.2004
4) Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2016). "Flora of Zimbabwe: Species information: Raphionacme procumbens."
http://www.zimbabweflora.co.zw/speciesdata/species.php?species_id=145390, retrieved 17 January 2016
5) Venter, H.J.T. “A Taxonomic revision of Raphionacme (Apocynaceae: Periplocoideae)” South African Journal of Botany 75(2) Pages 332 - 333. (Includes a picture). 2009
6) Gerrit Germishuizen “Transvaal Wild Flowers” Macmillan South Africa (Publishers), 1982
7) Urs Eggli, Leonard E. Newton "Etymological Dictionary of Succulent Plant Names" Springer Science & Business Media, 11 March 2004
Raphionacme procumbens Photo by: Sándor Horváth
The fruit: a A single pendulous follicle, 3.5- 4.5 cm long, ovoid and pointed. Photo by: © Plantemania
Raphionacme procumbens Photo by: Frikkie Hall
Caudex Photo by: © Plantemania
Cultivation and Propagation: In cultivation the plants are usually grown in semi shade, with the tubers wholly or (preferably) partially exposed to prevent scorching and rotting of the roots. This plant can take a good deal of water during active growth and should be watered only when not dormant. Keep dryish in winter. It should be overwintered in the greenhouse at temperatures over 12°C (avoid letting temperatures drop lower than 5° C). Use a very draining but rich soil. An error in cultivation may produce unsightly holes in the tuber.
Reproduction: This species can be reproduced by seeds.
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