Matelea Aublet

It is unclear where the name of this genus from tropical and subtropical America arises.  The genus of geophytes includes, shrubs, sub shrubs, lianas and herbaceous twining plants.  The roots are fibrous and they often form submerged tubers.  The lack of anther appendages is regarded as a defining feature of the species which sits in the subfamily Gonolobinae.

Matelea cyclophylla

Originating in Mexico, this  is the most commonly grown species and has a striking corkily barked, turnip shaped, tuber and conspicuous flowers on a vine like stem.


Microloma R.Brown

Occurring chiefly in the winter rainfall area of South Africa and southern Namibia, this is a genus of 10 species of non-succulent perennials in the subfamily Astephaninae. Some form small shrubs whilst others are vigorous scramblers and twiners.  

Microloma sagittatum

Occurring all the way up the Western coast of South Africa as far north as the Richtersveld in the winter rainfall area, this species is quite variable both in leaf size and flower colour - ranging from pale pink to bright red.  The plant shown was grown from seed (CM0120S) personally collected at Grootvleipas on the Hondelklipbaai to Kamieskroon back road, in 2001.  Studies have shown that seed of Microloma sagittatum and Microloma calycinum appear to have an inhibiter and will only germinate during the winter rainfall period.  Whether this also applies to other species in the genus is unclear but I suspect that best success could be had following this lead.

Ophionella Bruyns

Named from the diminutive of the Greek 'ophis', snake or serpent; referring to the snakelike stems. A genus of only three species of mat forming miniatures, all of which are only found in a restricted area of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa.  In 2003 Darrel Plowes revised the genus and raised  the two sub species of Ophionella to species status.

Ophionella arcuata 

With a very restricted distribution in the area around Somerset East and Bedford, the species O. arcuata forms dense mats of sinuous stems barely 8mm in diameter the stems are constantly seeking to bury their tips below ground. The flowers are normally caged, but occasionally the tips are free as shown here on a plant from Lynnton.

Ophionella mirkinii

Found only between Willowmore and Addo, species O. mirkinii has the same growth habit as species O. arcuata but has larger cup shaped open flowers. The plant shown was found by Peter Bruyns at Steytlerville, which is almost exactly halfway between Willowmore and Addo.

Ophionella willowmorensis

As the name suggests this species has a restricted distribution in the surrounding area of the town of Willowmore. The plant pictured was found at Waaipoort.