Colin Paterson-Jones - nature photography

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Namaqualand's Succulent Karoo Flora

Some 300 km north of Cape Town, the Olifants River reaches the sea. Stretching from here up South Africa's west coast and hinterland to the Orange River (the border with Namibia) and just beyond, lies a near desert.

This is the centre of the second of southern Africa's unique floras. The plants which have evolved to survive the harsh environment of Namaqualand and southern Namibia are unique, quite unlike the plants of any of the world's other deserts. Namaqualand is best known for its spectacular displays of massed spring annuals which delight visitors to the region and locals alike. But there is much more to this extraordinary vegetation; this is where a huge number of succulent leafed or succulent stemmed plants have evolved, including miniatures like the stone plants which are treasured by enthusiasts all over the world.


Candelabra Flowers, Brunsvigia bosmaniae, flowering en masse after good autumn rains on the Knersvlakte in Namaqualand with Gifberg beyond, Northern Cape, South Africa


Argyroderma congregatum flowering in winter on a quartz pebble patch on the Knersvlakte in Namaqualand, Western Cape, South Africa


Jordaaniella cuprea flowering in spring on Namaqualand's coastal plain, Northern Cape, South Africa


The Malgas Lily, Ammocharis longifolia, flowering after autumn rain in the Richtersveld, Namaqualand, Northern Cape, South Africa


Moraea ciliata flowering in spring in the Hardeveld of Namaqualand, Northern Cape, South Africa


The succulent Sarcocaulon crassicaule flowering on Namaqua granite in the Hardeveld of Namaqualand, Northern Cape, South Africa


Spring daisies, Ursinia calenduliflora, flowering in the Namaqualand Hardeveld, Northern Cape, South Africa


Fenestraria rhopalophylla ssp. aurantiaca in flower in winter in windblown sands on the rocky hills overlooking the Gariep River near Brand Karos in the Richtersveld, Northern Cape, South Africa


The rare Conophytum meyeri flowering in autumn on quartzite rock on the Oograbies Hills in Namaqualand, Northern Cape, South Africa