Inspector Indigenous – Pachycarpus grandiflorus
Pachycarpus (a member of Asclepiadaceae – Milkwood family) is an African endemic, with 40 species occurring on the continent, 24 in South Africa. The name refers to the thick skinned fruit: pachy = thick and carpus = fruit. This species, as suggested by the name, has really large flowers (up to 4cm across) which are clustered at the end of the stems. The bi-sexual blooms are yellowish green, speckled with maroon and produce large amounts of concentrated nectar. The petals are fused for at least half of their length, creating a ‘cup’. Pachycarpus grandiflora is pollinated by spider-hunting wasps. The leathery leaves have an obvious midrib and the stem is hairy. This plant doesn’t grow taller than 50cm and often is spotted trailing across a rock in the grassland– almost as if the flower head is too heavy for the stem to hold up. The thick underground rootstock helps to avoid destruction of the entire plant during the fires that are common throughout the Summer rainfall areas where it occurs.