The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Tongue-leaved Plant

Afrikaans name:

The beautiful yellow flowers of the Tongue-leaved Plant (Glottiphyllum linguiforme)

Tongue-leaved Plant

Photo © Steven Herbert

Glottiphyllum linguiforme

The Tongue-leaved Plant comes from the Oudtshoorn area. This species is one of 16 species that are recognised nowadays to belong to the genus Glottiphyllum. Today these interesting plants are threatened in their natural habitat by soil erosion and trampling by livestock.

This plant gets it common, and scientific name, from its long fleshy leaves which are somewhat tongue-like. These aren’t leaves in the truest sense of the word. The only time that they have proper leaves is when they are young. Their fleshy leaves are greyish green and have a waxy coating which allows them to withstand arid areas. The rainfall in their natural range varies between 100 and 200 mm per year.

Tongue-leaved plants form a low spreading mass of densely packed individual plants. They reach a maximum height of around 15 cm. The bright yellow flowers appear from amongst the leaves during autumn and winter. They tend to grow on well-drained sandy soils.

The plants contain small quantities of oxalic acid and have been used as yeast to make bread and some African tribes have used it as one of the ingredients when making beer.

References and further reading

Succulent Flora of Southern Africa - 3rd edition - Author: Doreen Court - Published: 2010 - Page: 20

Succulent Flora of Southern Africa - 3rd edition - Author: Doreen Court - Published: 2010 - Page: 50

Field guide to Succulents of Southern Africa - Author: Gideon Smith & Neil Crouch - Published: 2017 - Page: 55


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