Plants photographed on Kyffhäuser
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Talinum caffrum (Thunb.) Eckl. & Zeyh.


Talinum caffrum

Habit and flower



Family: Portulacaceae
Full name: Talinum caffrum (Thunb.) Eckl. & Zeyh.
Location: Kyffhäuser (2416AD + 2416CB)
ID status: Fairly certain
Afrikaans common name(s): Ystervarkwortel, Osbossie, Ystervarkkos, Wildevygie
English common name(s): Porcupine root, Flameflower
Synonym(s): Portulaca caffra Thunb.
Talinum esculentum Dinter & G.Schellenb.
Status: Native
Description: A succulent leafy biennial or perennial herb from a thick, often several-headed root-stock with spreading or subpatent glabrous branches. Leaves fleshy, lanceolate, elliptic-lanceolate to oval or nearly linear, acute or subacute, mucronate, 1–1.5 in. long, 0.25– 0.5 in. broad; petiole 1–2 lines or shorter. Flowers yellow or sulphur, axillary, solitary; peduncles exceeding or shorter than the leaves with one or more pair of subulate bracts, occasionally 2- or even 3-flowered, decurved above in fruit. (from JSTOR Global Plants website / Flora of Tropical Africa)

Perennial herb from a deeply buried, sometimes lobed tuber, tuber with white flesh, a woody 'neck' developing between the tuber and the annual stems; stems decumbent to prostrate or infrequently suberect, to 30 cm long, much branched. Leaves alternate, variable, linear, linear-oblanceolate or narrowly elliptic, 2–7 cm long, 3–13 mm wide, margins often revolute, base cuneate to a brief petiole, apex apiculate. Flowers in axillary 1(–2)-flowered cymes, opening in the afternoon; peduncle 0.5–1.5(–2.5) cm long, stout, recurving in fruit, tipped by a pair of bracts; pedicel stout, thickened upwards. Sepals ovate-acuminate, membranous, 7–12 mm long; petals yellow, ±10 mm long, spreading, obovate, acute; stamens 25–60; ovary green. Capsule plump, conical, yellow, glossy, (5–)7–9 mm high; seeds lenticular, 1.6–1.8 mm in diameter, black, glossy, with elongate testa cells and prominent concentric ridges. (from JSTOR Global Plants website / Flora of Tropical East Africa)

Smooth, much branched; branches alternate, erect or patent; leaves oblong-linear or linear-lanceolate, mucronulate, with revolute margins; flowers solitary in the axils of the upper leaves, erect, in fruit reflexed. A perennial herb, 0.5–1 foot high; branches terete, mostly undivided. Leaves on very short petioles, 8–12 lines long, 1–1.5 lines wide, in var. ß. 5–6 lines long. Flowering peduncles as long as the leaves or shorter, in fruit longer, (1 inch) and thick below the apex, bi-bracteolate in the middle. Sepals ovate, acute, 2 lines long, shorter than the yellow (Thunb.) broad ovate petals, about as long as the stamens. Capsule 3 lines long. Seeds sub-compressed, concentric, striated, black, the hilum and strophiolum white. (from JSTOR Global Plants website / Flora Capensis)

Perennial glabrous herb c. 40 cm tall from a thickened turnip-like root c. 12 cm long; stems suberect or erect. Leaf-lamina somewhat fleshy, 1.5–6 × 0.2–1.5 cm, very variable in shape, typically lanceolate to elliptic-lanceolate or ovate, rarely almost linear, apex subacute, mucronate, cuneate at the base, margin sometimes revolute, petiole up to 4 mm. long. Inflorescences axillary, 1- or rarely 2–3-flowered; peduncle c. 2 cm long, thickened towards the apex, with a pair of subulate bracteoles c. 1.5 mm long in the upper half. Sepals 0.5–1.0 cm long, ovate, acuminate at the apex. Petals yellow or golden, about twice the length of the sepals, ovate, rounded at the apex. Stamens numerous; filaments filamentous, c. 4 mm long. Ovary subglobose; style 2–5 mm long; stigmas 3, 1–2 mm long, spreading. Capsule subglobose. Seeds c. 20, shining black with a white hilum, 1.5–2 mm in diam., reniform-globose, with well defined, elevated, concentric ridges. (from JSTOR Global Plants website / Flora Zambesiaca)

Erect or suberect perennial herb, up to 40 cm tall, growing from a swollen tuber-like root. Leaves and stems somewhat fleshy. Leaves elliptic-lanceolate, up to 6 × 1.5 cm; margin sometimes rolled under. Flowers axillary, mostly solitary, rarely in clusters of 2-3, yellow,up to 2 cm in diameter, opening in the afternoon and fading by nightfall. Fruit a subglobose capsule. Seeds c. 20, shiny black with a white hilum, 1.5-2 mm in diameter, with raised concentric ridges on the surface (visible with a lens). Notes: Similar to T. tenuissimum and T. arnotii. The 3 species are mainly separated on the surfaces of the seeds and leaf shapes. (from Flora of Zimbabwe website)

Seeds with concentric rows of cells and channels. (from www.ispot.org.za/node/180556)

Talinum caffrum has annual, branched, erect or reclining branches with reddish stems, up to 400 mm tall, growing from a buried tuber up to 150 mm in height and diameter, with tuberous roots. Leaves are simple, alternate, fleshy, 20–40 × 3–10 mm, green, with entire margins. It produces cup-shaped, lemon-yellow flowers, up to 20 mm in diameter, which last for only one day, from spring to late summer (September to February). Fruit is a rounded capsule. Seeds shiny black, about 2 mm in diameter. T. caffrum is the only species in the complex with ridged black seeds. There are more than 40 species of Talinum of which 7 species grow in tropical Africa. There are 4 species that are very closely related to Talinum caffrum, these are: T. arnotii, T. crispatulum, T. tenuissimum and T. portulacifolium. It becomes simple to identify them when seeds are available, as T. caffrum is the only one with ridged seeds. (from http://pza.sanbi.org/talinum-caffrum)

Plant erect or decumbent; tubers branched, with white flesh. Branches glabrous or almost so, 15-25 (-40) cm long. Leaves linear to oblong, 2-4 (-8) cm long, (2) 3-6 (-10) mm broad, with margins revolute or recurving; first leaves on branch short and broadly oblong; petiole 1-3 mm long. Inflorescence axillary, cymose, 1 (2)-flowered. Peduncle 0-5-1 -5 (-2-5) cm long, often keeled or laterally compressed, ending in two keeled bracts with membranous margins. Pedicel 1-1 -5 (-2) cm long, swollen, often ridged below the ovary; bracteoles usually absent, rarely one lateral flower with one pair of bracteoles. Sepals lanceolate, pointed, 5-8 (-15) mm long, keeled, slightly hooded, with membranous margins. Petals 5, obovate to elliptic, yellow. Stamens 25-30 (-50), with filaments becoming broader towards the base, fused into a ring c. 1 mm high. Ovary conical, with 25-35 (-40) ovules; style 2-3 (-4) mm long, dividing into 3 stigmas 2 mm long, papillose. Capsule ovoid, 6-10 mm long, 6-7 mm broad, shiny, yellow. Seeds spherical to comma-shaped, hardly laterally compressed, c. 1 mm long, with ridges with perpendicular grooves between the ridges, dark brown or black. This species occurs mainly on rocky outcrops and has mainly an eastern distribution in Africa from the eastern Cape to Kenya, but also extends across Rhodesia and Zambia into north-eastern South West Africa. (from TÖLKEN, H.R. 1969. The genus Talinum (Portulacaceae) in southern Africa. Bothalia 10)
Link(s) African Plant Database
JSTOR Plant Science
Kew Herbarium Catalogue
BGBM Berlin-Dahlem - Virtual Herbarium
Züricher Herbarien
iNaturalist (Namibia / Alex Dreyer)
iNaturalist (Namibia)
iNaturalist (southern Africa)
Flora of Zimbabwe
Fleurs de notre Terre - Galerie Namibie
Tree Atlas of Namibia
Photographer: AA Dreyer
Date of photograph: 04 Mar 2012
Camera make: Panasonic
Camera model: DMC-FZ45
Lens aperture: f/4.0
Shutter speed: 1/200 s
ISO speed: 80
Content last updated: 14 Jan 2021


Note: The identification of some of the plants on this website is not 100% certain. Any comments will be highly appreciated. I would also be willing to supply higher resolution images upon request. Please contact me at the e-mail address given below.

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