The Knersvlakte is an arid basin at the southern extremity of Namaqualand in South Africa. I had the pleasure of visiting this succulent rich region this past Aug-Sept., which was winter in the Southern Hemisphere. It is approximately 50km across, and is surrounded by glittering quartz pebbles. The annual rainfall in this dry bowl is less than 150 mm. The vegetation of this extraordinary region is largely a special type of dwarf succulent shrubland called vygieveld in Afrikaans. Vygies are otherwise known as Ice plants/Mesembs to put it in simple terms. These unique quartz patches support an array of cushion forming leaf-succulents and bulbs, with high endemism. All species of Argyroderma, Dactylopsis, and Oophytum are only found here. These Mesembs, or bubbles as my friend affectionately refers to them as are beautifully adapted to the shallow soils, and high light intensities. Typical of Mesembs many of them remain partially buried to avoid the heat, and have developed transparent windows that allow light for photosynthesis to penetrate into the leaves. This place is truly unique!
|Dactylopsis digitata ssp. littlewoodii|
|Knersvlakte natural quartz patches|