Senior citizens among Tylecodon paniculatus plants residing in the westerly, semi-arid veld of South Africa (and Namibia) are imposing sights, more elephantine than elegant. Their stems may reach 60 cm in diameter.
Three physical components capture the viewer’s attention in this seasonal stage: the thickset yellow-grey stem, the bright green and succulent leaves and the dark, brittle sticks of the persistent floral remain African hairdo. These components are neatly separated in tricolour fashion, although the botterboom does not feature in vexillology, the study of flags.
The plant was photographed in the Biedouw Valley during September. It was slightly later than some of its younger local compatriots in producing the year’s blooms. The elderly favour luxury over speed (Vlok and Schutte-Vlok, 2015; Manning, 2007).