Manulea crassifolia subsp. thodeana is an annual herb of the Drakensberg of KwaZulu-Natal. It also grows in Lesotho and has a stable population in its habitat in the early twentieth century. Manulea plants are sometimes in Afrikaans called vingertjies (little fingers) for the shape of their petals. This species shares the feature of a dense raceme of five finger-like corolla lobes. Flower colour generally varies from pale buff, yellow to white. M. crassifolia subsp. thodeana is the only one that sometimes has mauve flowers. M. crassifolia subsp. crassifolia is found on the Free State side of the mountains and is never mauve.
The five petal lobes spread at the end of a corolla tube twice as long as the hairy, pointy sepals. Flowers grow in a raceme that starts off short, but may be 15 cm long by the time the fruits develop. There are two unequal pairs of stamens in each flower, one of which is hidden inside the tube.
This hairy plant may branch at the base or grow just one erect stem. The leaves are oblanceolate with rounded or obtuse tips and a thick texture, reflecting the meaning of the specific name of crassifolia. (Crassi means thick.) The leaves may be hairy and toothed, but not always. Most leaves are basal; a few with short petioles occur along the stem.
This plant was seen in January in the Mkhomazi Wilderness Area in the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg on the Lesotho border (iSpot; JSTOR; www.redlist.sanbi.org).