Builder’s Bums 2 – the hairy ones..

This may be my final post before heading over the ocean to Montreal next week. I will schedule some B&W photos to keep things ticking over whilst I am mainlining Maple syrup.

Meanwhile, here is a Friday geeky plant post:

A month ago I wrote a post about Lithops (Builder’s Bums in my wife’s parlance). This is kind of a sequel to that, though I realise this blog risks turning into the botanical equivalent of the Benny Hill show or a Carry On movie. At least I am not (yet) featuring Argyroderma testiculare or Clitoria ternata (there are clues in the names).


Whilst Lithops fascinate me, the closely related Conophytum are far more variable in size, shape, markings, hairiness and flower colour. Unlike Lithops they are winter-growers which makes their management a little trickier.

Very broadly they can be divided into two large groups of species:

  • the species that flower in day time and have much more showy flowers with no scent.
  • the species which flower at night and are highly scented but usually have small and less pretty flowers – no point using visual attraction to moth pollinators at night time.

Having said that, there are some species which I think have a foot in both camps. Conophytum ficiforme has highly scented but attractive flowers that stay at least partially open in daytime.

It is also noticeable that the nocturnal species tend to have the more exotically hairy or spotty bodies. Kind of like students in many respects.


Do I have a favourite? Probably Conophytum angelicae ssp tetragonum with its wonderful sculpted leaves like Klingon foreheads and tiny but incredibly scented flowers at night time.


One species is one of the smallest flowering plants in the world. Conophytum achabense has usually solitary pea-sized bodies which are mostly underground in habitat, only the match-head size tip is exposed. Almost impossible to find except when it produces its unfeasibly large flower. In a twist of nature’s irony – this species has the largest seeds in the genus.


Here are some pictures of leaf surface textures:


There are hairy species in both the daytime and nocturnal flowering species. Here are the nocturnal C. stephanii and the daytime C. mirabile:


C. stephanii has small brown nocturnal flowers but the flowers of C. mirabile are rather prettier:


Another favourite is the very aptly named Conophytum cubicum:


Finally a collage of flowering plants:


  1. These are so peculiar and beautiful. Mother Nature has a funny sense of humour! I really like the leaf texture that looks like a brain and the pretty Conophytum cubicum. Great post Darren.

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    1. Thank you Dominique😍. Even if one does not find them aesthetically beautiful there is a beauty in their variation to fit their ecological niche. The hairy ones are found in South Africa’s west coastal fog belt and the hairs trap moisture from the fog.

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        1. I look forward to reading about your trip!πŸ˜„. I will of course share mine on here. I have also agreed to model in one of Dominiques photo shoots during my trip so will pop up on her blog too if they manage to make me look half presentable…

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  2. Amazing images showing all the process They look like little brains but when they bloom they look pretty, I like that they have scents I love going out at night and smell flower fragrances in the air especially at night. Say hi to my beautiful friend Dominique while in Canada please and eat as much maple syrup as you can for both of us as I love it. Happy weekend xoxo Cris

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