The copious succulence or mucosity of Grielum humifusum becomes evident when breaking the skin or eating the root. This has earned G. humifusum its Afrikaans name of pietsnot. Some less derogatory common names of duikerwortel (duiker root) and Maritzwater also exist, while the Nama people used to call this plant t’koeibee. If you eat it, you may name it within your culture.
An open flower and some pale, cone-shaped buds are visible upon the mat of leaves spreading upon the ground. The photo was taken early in August, the middle of the plant’s bloomtime.
The rounded lateral leaf lobes ascend on the dark-green blades upon the prostrate stems, all angled up to the also rounded leaf-tips. The stems are fleshy, but it is the thick, soft root, rich in protein that remains the most remarkable and eatable part of the pietsnot.
The species is distributed from Namibia through the Northern Cape into the Western Cape as far southeast as Robertson.
The plant grows on sandy, floodplain flats of semi-arid regions. Neither of the two varieties of G. humifusum occurring in South Africa is considered to be threatened in their habitats early in the twenty first century (Vlok and Schutte-Vlok, 2015; Manning, 2007; Le Roux, et al, 2005; Van Wyk and Gericke, 2000; http://redlist.sanbi.org).