Nodding umbels or clusters of (usually six to ten) buds and open flowers grow side by side on this branch of Gomphocarpus fruticosus. The flowers of each umbel opening about simultaneously.
The flat-topped umbels nod; to see the flower centre one has to crawl underneath or turn it upside down. Narrow, leaf-like bracts grow from the umbel base, some of them visible in the photo.
In the umbel of buds, the tiny, narrowly pointed sepal tips curve away from the still closed, cream coloured corollas with their greenish tinge. The sepals are invisible on the open flowers. They are forced right back by the upward push of the open, creamy white petals. The petals are flexed back strongly from the dangling, boat-shaped corona lobes.
These corona lobes, typical of flowers in the Apocynaceae family, are lemon yellow and hollow, attached to a pale purple base where the ovary is situated. An open flower measures about 8 mm across (Manning, 2009; Le Roux, et al, 2005; Vlok and Schutte-Vlok, 2010; www.plantzafrica.com).