Miraglossum pulchellum, the horned miracle-tongue, gets its generic name of Miraglossum, (the same meaning in Latin as the common English name of miracle-tongue), from the unusual shape of the corona lobes of several species of the genus. The plant is a perennial herb that grows from a tuber. It is listed as a succulent, a geophyte.
While the five corolla lobes recurve abruptly at the flower base and are positioned quite out of the way of pollination activities, the erect flower parts, the outer and inner coronas, pollinia and stigma are complex and quite unusual. Flowers of the Apocynaceae family are perfect, i.e. hermaphroditic with all parts of male and female reproductive equipment present in a radially symmetric (actinomorphic) flower structure. At the back of the corolla and partly hidden are five small acutely pointed sepal lobes; also visible on the closed buds above.
Opposite leaves, hairy, long, linear and ascending, can be seen widely spaced up the stem. The flowers nod on long pedicels from leaf axils.
The plant, the most widely distributed of all Miraglossum species, grows in the north-eastern parts of South Africa, from the north of the Eastern Cape to Limpopo. It is also found in Lesotho, Swaziland and several countries beyond the northern border. This photo was taken in November near Underberg in KwaZulu-Natal (iSpot; Wikipedia; Smith, et al, 1997; www.plantzafrica.com).
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