Dipcadi glaucum is more well-known among stock farmers of the arid parts of South Africa and Namibia than they prefer. The malkopui (mad head onion) or dronkui (drunken onion) grows leaves annually from the perennial bulb. The leaves appear in spring, often when a good grass cover has not arrived yet, or is already withering, depending on when it rains.
The white bulbs are often small, but may reach 15 cm in diameter, i.e. commanding good resources for growing leaves in dry seasons. Poorly managed veld may be invaded fast by the readily germinating seeds of D. glaucum, on any of a variety of soil types. On overgrazed land, where the palatable grasses are limited anyway, the poisonous leaves of this plant get eaten with disastrous consequences. Impact on the nervous system of stock animals gave cause to the plant’s unusual common names.
This plant with its glaucous rosette of semi-erect, sword-shaped leaves was seen west of Kuruman in December (iSpot; www.landbou.com).