The large, subterranean Fockea sinuata tuber is potato-like, a water and nutrient storage facility, sometimes supporting quite delicate and even small aboveground parts. The caudex reaches a diameter of around 15 cm.
The one in picture has been discovered, uncovered and tasted by a Little Karoo porcupine who wasn’t very hungry, or is saving the stash for later. People and animals have feasted for thousands of years on bulbs, corms and rhizomes in the veld. Recognising the aboveground plant parts enables foragers to dig in the right places.
Balance between plant and consumer numbers sustains the future of both parties in their shared ecology. This balance is never constant. The fluctuations in environmental conditions favour one party over the other in continuous oscillation, driven by many ecological factors. It all ends when critical margins are exceeded in extreme conditions, such as climate change, wiping out the eaters or the eaten, sometimes both.
Countless deaths and continual dying accompany the all-out scramble among participating parties to make it in the prevailing circumstances of time and place. The timing of death before or after reproduction is commonly the critical variable, driving the continued selection and thereby the success of species in the ecological mix (Leistner, (Ed.), 2000; iNaturalist; http://bihrmann.com; http://fresnocss.com; https://worldofsucculents.com).