Discover the world of succulents through the lens of a scarce gem – Conophytum pageae. Named after its discoverer, Mrs. P. Page, this remarkable plant hails from the Northern Cape Province of South Africa, specifically the Richtersveld, where the climate can be harsh and unforgiving.
Conophytum pageae is no ordinary succulent. It belongs to the Aizoaceae family and the Mesembryanthemaceae subfamily, notorious for their members’ varied and interesting shapes and sizes. Like most of its siblings, C. pageae has the unique characteristic of surviving in low-nutrient, rocky terrains, making it a rugged survivor in the world of flora.
What sets C. pageae apart is its peculiar appearance. Its small size (approximately 2 cm in diameter), smooth, round leaves that form a single pair, and its dark to brownish-green color are striking. Its “lip-like” appearance is part of this adaptation, and here’s how it develops.
The lips arise from the fissure or “split” between the fused pair of leaves. During the plant’s growth cycle, new leaves form within this protective outer shell. When it’s time for the old leaves to wither and for new growth to emerge, the split at the top opens, making the plant look as if it has lips.
The plant eventually transforms, revealing charming, small yellow-to-white flowers with a captivating scent released after sundown. Much like many cacti species, this nocturnal blooming strategy is a tactical adaptation to attract night-flying pollinators.
Due to its rarity and unique characteristics, Conophytum pageae is a highly prized member of succulent collections worldwide. Growing this beauty can be challenging, requiring careful watering practices, well-draining soil, and a balance of sunlight and shade.