Rabiea albinota (Haw.) N.E.Br.
Common names: clock plant (Eng.); s'keng-kengvygie (Afr.); s`keng-keng (Griqua)
When in a powdered state, the s'keng-keng is amongst numerous psychotropic plants that are able to alter the mind and mood of an individual.
Rabiea albinota is a mat-forming succulent, about 80 mm tall and up to 200 mm in diameter, with leaves that broaden from the base to the middle, then taper to a pointed apex (mucronate). The leaf is scimitar-shaped (acinaciform), with a distinct keel. The epidermal layer has numerous tuberculate, prominent, white to dark purple spots, often white-margined. Flowers appear daisy-like, yellow, solitary, opening in the afternoon, 35–45 mm in diameter; stamens are yellow. Pedicels are short with basal bracteoles. The flowering season is mainly from late winter through spring, but it may blossom occasionally all year round.
The species has three synonyms, namely; Mesebryanthemum albinotus Haw., Aloinopsis albinotus (Haw.) Schwantes and Nananthus albinotus (Haw.) L.Bolus
Least Concern (LC).
Distribution and habitat
Rabiea albinota occurs in the Nama Karoo of the Northern Cape in South Africa, in the Graff Reinet, Cradock and Middelburg districts. It prefers dry open places among rocks on slopes, often in crevices between stones. In the Nama Karoo the rain falls in summer, and varies between 100 and 520mm per year. Individuals growing in different habitats show different growth forms under different growing conditions; hence, identification of this species has proved troublesome in the past.
Derivation of name and historical aspects
The genus was named after Reverend W.A. Rabie, a South African plant collector, in commemoration of his service to the Botanical Survey of South Africa. The species name albinota comes from the Latìn albus, meaning 'white’ and nota, meaning ‘mark’; in reference to the white-spotted leaf surface.
This genus Rabiea was separated from Nananthus N.E.Br. in 1930, when it appeared first in a key, being fully established a year later with R. albinota (Haw.) N.E.Br. as the lectotype. It is a small genus of six species occuring in the Northern Cape, Free State and Eastern Cape.
The mechanism of seed dispersal in Rabiea albinota is by a hygrochastic fruit with eight locules, and the seed is dispersed nearby the mother plant, which results in small local communities.
The dried and pulverized plant is reported to be a hallucinogenic additive to tobacco, which is smoked or taken as snuff. This plant species is also of significant value in pot culture as it provides attractive pot plants.
Growing Rabiea albinota
Rabiea albinota is recommended for beginners, as they are easy and rewarding plants that can grow in pots or rock-garden. However, it is difficult to keep the leaves free of scars and dead leaf-tips, but the abundant flowers hide these from late winter through spring. Potted individuals look best in a heavy soil and the same is true for plants in a rockery. They can be watered year-round, however, water frequency needs to be reduced in winter, and good drainage is recommended. The plant has high levels of frost tolerance and grows best where there are cold winters (it is reported to be hardy to at least -18°C if very dry).
Rabiea albinota may be affected by pests such as red spider mites, which infest the skin of the plant, spreading rusty markings or spider-like webbing over the surface and spines. However, plants badly affected may grow well but are best discarded or re-grown from cuttings.
- Bolus, H.M.L. 1958. Rabiea N.E.Br. Notes on Mesembryanthemum and allied genera. Vol. 3: 369–372. University of Cape Town, Cape Town.
- Burgoyne, P.M. 2006. Rabiea albinota (Haw.) N.E.Br. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2015.1. Accessed on 2016/01/18
- Hartmann, H. 2001. Illustrated handbook of succulent plants. Aizoaceae, F–Z: 237.
- Leistner, O.A. (ed.). 2000. Seed plants of southern Africa: families and genera. Strelitzia 10. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
- Smith, C.A 1966. Common names of South African plants. Memoirs of the Botanical Survey of South Africa No. 35.
- Smith, G.F., Chesselet, P., Van Jaarsveld, E.J., Hartmann, H., Hammer, S., Van Wyk, B-E., Burgoyne, P., Klak, C. & Kurzweil, H. 1998. Mesembs of the world. Briza, Pretoria.
- Van Jaarsveld, E.J. & Pienaar, U. de V. 2000. Vygies, gems of the veld. Cactus & Co. Libri, Venegono, Italy.
- Van Wyk, B.-E. & Gericke, N. 2000. People's plants . Briza Publications, Pretoria.
- Au Cactus Francophone https://www.cactuspro.com/conophytum-lithops/in-situ/rabiea-in-situ-/rabiea-albinota/nananthus-sp.-new-bethesta-3-.jpg.php
- Cactus Art Nursery website: http://www.cactus-art.biz/schede/RABIEA/Rabiea_albinota/Rabiea_albinota/Rabiea_albinota.htm
- LLifle Encylopedias of Living Forms: http://www.llifle.com/Encyclopedia/SUCCULENTS/Family/Aizoaceae/19625/Rabiea_albinota
Ndamase Nozuko & Ntombifikile Phaliso
National Herbarium, Pretoria
Plant Type: Succulent
SA Distribution: Free State
Soil type: Sandy
Flowering season: Spring, Winter
Flower colour: Yellow, Orange
Aspect: Afternoon Sun (Semi Shade)
Gardening skill: Easy