FRAGILIS Schonl. 1929
Type : Muir 3782, sandy dunes close to the sea at Melkhoutfontein near Still Bay, Southern Cape, SA.
Distribution : Endemic to the sandy soils of coastal dunes on south to south-west facing aspects growing sparsely through low wind sheared shrubs sometimes within a metre of the littoral zone but occurring up the dune face to 40 m alt.
Scandent, branching subshrub, 30 – 75 cm tall.
Leaves oblanceolate, obovate, ovate-elliptic, puberulous to tomentose, rarely glabrous, flat above, convex below, < 3 cm long, grey-green turning to mauve under dry conditions, never red, within shrubs the lower leaves die back and are deciduous, while where exposed old leaves are persistent. Internodes 0.5 – 3 cm.
Inflorescence 15 – 20 cm long, peduncle robust, tomentose , with 2 – 5 pairs of bracts, with an entire to branched flat to hemisphaerical thyrse, up to 19 mm wide, bracts elliptic, tomentose.
Flowers 4.5 – 5.5 mm long, lobes with a large terminal dorsal appendage and incurved petal apex, appendage ovoid to round, equal to or slightly longer than wide.
Flowering time August to September.
Tölken (1985) placed C. fragilis in the synonymy of C. pubescens ssp. pubescens. However it differs from the latter in habit, floral morphology and habitat specificity, and therefore should be recognised as a distinct species – according to N.H.G. Jacobsen.
First published in Cactus & Succulent Journal US 93(2): 123-127. 2021.