Tylecodon similis, commonly called the zigzag butterbush, is a dwarf succulent, a shrublet reaching 8 cm in height.
It grows from a nearly spherical underground tuber covered in grey-brown, peeling bark. The stem is straight or zigzagging and few-branched. The bark is striated grey and black.
The small, thickly succulent leaves are from nearly globular to elongated and sometimes bilobed due to a central channel on top. A leaf can be up to 1 cm in diameter or long. New leaves are green, sometimes streaked red or nearly red all over, the surfaces often rough from a covering of small, papilla-like protrusions.
The specific name, similis, is a Latin word meaning similar, referring to superficial similarity to another Tylecodon, viz. T. schaeferianus of the Richtersveld but more along the southern Namibian coast.
The T. similis distribution is confined to a northwesterly part of the Northern Cape, mainly the mountains to the west of the Richtersveld. The habitat is arid mountain slopes receiving very little winter rain.
The species was not considered to be threatened in its habitat until recently but its rare state from a limited population and popularity with plant collectors, possibly mainly illegal ones, are likely to change this rating to vulnerable (Grenier, 2019; Williamson, 2010; iNaturalist; https://worldofsucculents.com; http://redlist.sanbi.org).