Title: Guide to succulents of Southern Africa
Author: Gideon F. Smith; Neil R. Crouch
Publisher: Random House Struik
Cape Town, South Africa 2009
ISBN 9781770076624 / ISBN 978-1-77007-662-4
Softcover, 15 x 21 cm, 136 pages, throughout colour photographs and illustrations
Much of southern Africa is semi-arid to arid, indeed desert-like, and it is perhaps not surprising that succulents abound in the region. Somewhat predictably, therefore, southern Africa can also lay claim to having the richest and most diverse succulent flora in the world. Although this has been known for many years, the extent and diversity of this was only recently verified by a comprehensive survey of this group. The results revealed that an amazing 47 per cent of the world's known succulents occur in southern Africa. Succulents come in all shapes and sizes. This diversity ranges from succulent forest, savanna and desert trees of over 20 m tall, such as the baobab, to miniature soil-huggers only a few millimetres high that mimic their pebble-desert surroundings. One thing they all have in common is the ability to store water in one or more of their organs for later slow release. Whereas plants in moist regions absorb water and immediately release it through their leaves, succulents have developed a range of mechanisms allowing them to accumulate moisture when it is available, and thereby sustain plant growth when they are water-deprived. Featuring 250 of the most interesting and commonly encountered succulents, Guide to Succulents of Southern Africa is a guide to the identification of these popular plants.