Three stages in the life of Crassula alpestris subsp. alpestris are depicted here:
The grey, dead stalk in the centre, topped by the bushy remains of its last inflorescence, represents the past.
On the left, the present is a plant in its prime, topped by a couple of branched inflorescences. One urn-shaped open flower is seen in profile, whitish near the visible petal bases and out-curving at their tips.
The plant’s stem looks thick, but this is all show. The thin grey stem of the demised senior reveals that the thickness is all about densely overlapping leaves, right up to the flowers. Remember those photos of owls with thin, long legs revealed?
The future is obscure on the right. (This is not a political statement.) Claw-like leaves of a beginner of the same species have pushed their way past some dry detritus to establish a new presence in this close-knit family.
In easier conditions these plants are likely to branch and form clumps to about 15 cm in diameter. Not here without gardener help in the veld at Kagga Kamma.