Augea capensis

Jackie Chambers continues to submit photographs from her recent trip to South Africa. Thanks again for an image and write-up! Jackie writes:

Augea capensis has the distinction of being the only member of the genus Augea. This interesting plant can be found growing in disturbed soils of Namaqualand, as well as the drier parts of the Northern Cape province. It can also be found in arid regions of South Africa’s Western Cape province and Namibia. A tough plant, it can tolerate not only hot and dry conditions, but also high levels of salt. This trait is shared by other members of the Zygophyllaceae.

A low growing shrub, Augea capensis can reach up to 50 cm in height, and has pale yellow swollen stems. The yellow-green leaves are succulent, cylindrical and smooth, measuring about 3-4cm long. The white flowers have 5 petals.

At first glance, the immature fruits can easily be mistaken for leaves. Fruits are cylindrical, about 2cm long and turn yellow when ripe. They produce a large amount of seed, which can be a valuable food source for many animals during periods of prolonged drought. Some reports state that the leaves may also be eaten, and they are said to have a salty flavour. Augea capensis is also a favourite food of southern African whistling rats, Parotomys brantsii and Parotomys littledalei.

The plant is named after a German gardener and plant collector, Johannes Andreas Auge (1711-1805). Auge was an employee of the Botanical Garden at Leiden; in 1747 he moved to South Africa and worked in the garden of the Dutch East India Company in Cape Town. He traveled the country and collected plants with Carl Peter Thunberg, a Swedish naturalist and student of Linnaeus. It was Thunberg who named Augea capensis in honour of Johannes Auge. Read more about the life of Auge via Aluka.

Augea capensis
Augea capensis

21 responses to “Augea capensis”

  1. A

    I think it is so wonderful that many of the plants that grow in remote areas like the dessert help other animals out so much. Another one of God’s marvels!

  2. Daune (Dawn!) Smith

    That is an amazing plant and the soil around it looks like the dirt here in the eastern part of San Antonio…only the dry stuff grows well!!!
    Our Creator is an amazing designer…everything is useful!

  3. Daniel Mosquin

    I’m fairly certain evolutionary processes are what drive the development of traits and what we marvel at is the byproduct of millions (generally) of years of development. Do bear in mind that this is a scientific blog on the web site of a scientific institution.

  4. van

    Thank you Daniel.
    If I’m seeing this right, that plant is covered in immature fruits!

  5. Daniel Mosquin

    van, yes, that’s my conclusion as well. Very cool.

  6. Scott McGillivray

    Nature handles things just fine without the intervention of man, it’s when we get involved that nature has to readapt…

  7. Katherine

    I love the top photo! All-in-one, showing the leaves, a flower, some fruits just emerging from the remains of flowers, and more mature fruits! Captures a whole timeline…

  8. ruth

    In science, beauty. In beauty, science. Daily.

  9. A

    I do stick firm to the belief that God created and is the Creator. He is above all things, without Him nothing that is would be. I don’t believe that a 124 molecule protein could have evolved out of random chance no matter how long you give it. Life is too marvelous to be chance. Love is not a product of chance, it is the Creation of a Sovereign God.

  10. Daniel Mosquin

    I suppose my question is: Why would you want to bring this tired, oft-repeated, oft-divisive argument to this weblog? It’s fairly obvious, if you spend some time here, that we promote science and the scientific endeavour. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of other places on the web to go through the motions of arguing about this topic.
    Nothing will be resolved by any further discussion on the matter, no one will be swayed — but people will be turned off. Most people can quietly hold their beliefs — mine are subtly held, I hope.

  11. elizabeth a airhart

    thank you daniel
    alkua is fine but i am not like you
    so i can not down load- thats fine
    you can do it for us -the botanical
    drawings are quite fine-one by masson
    1741 – 1805 is really quite good
    lets keep it light and easy

  12. Eric Simpson

    Daniel,
    I want to thank you: in general for the work you (and Ruth and Jackie) do every day to bring us this wonderful blog; and in particular today for standing up to the god squad in such a direct, yet restrained, manner. You have clearly been touched by the FSM’s noodley appendages ;-).

  13. Daniel Mosquin

    Eric, I don’t think I’ve ever stated my preference for the FSM either, and I don’t really want to on here. I suppose I just want whatever anyone’s beliefs are (including mine) to be irrelevant to enjoying BPotD. I would like people of all faiths, and those of none or uncertainty, to be able to enjoy it.
    That can’t be done, I guess, when it comes to talking about evolution, since it is the fundamental underpinning of all biology and unavoidable in a science-based weblog.

  14. Tracy

    “…no one will be swayed — but people will be turned off.”
    I flat out cannot agree more. I was so turned off, so VERY turned off by the first two comments. I am glad this rarely if never happens. Fanaticism is revolting no matter how small the dose.

  15. Equisetum

    Jackie, I just wanted to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed your South African trip, and that I’m thankful that you took the time to stop and do the great closeups (braving, if your trips are anything like mine, the fidgeting of significant others).
    We have several species in the family Zygophyllaceae here in California, but Calflora lists none that are succulent. We have a few species which somewhat resemble the Augea, like some of the Dudleyas which are often found clinging to ocean cliffs, but they’re mostly in Crassulaceae, not very closely related. I guess this makes the Augea a good example of both convergent and divergent evolution. The Z’s here are also species of dry places and deserts, but run to shrubby plants with resin-coated leathery leaves, like our famous Creosote Bush (Larrea tridentata).

  16. Debby

    I didn’t like the disdainful scientist’s/scientific response to the acknowledgement of a creator. I think the Creator could have put evolution into place. It’s all pretty cool, and we can all be respectful I hope.

  17. phillip

    ..’disdainful’…i think not.
    i believe it was a wise and eloquent response from the teacher….

  18. Denise

    I don’t post very often – but I do want to say that “scientists” (of which I am one) should not be so offended by the mention of a God. The person who posted, just stated their thoughts, not trying to influence anyone’s decision. Let them say what they want, as you say what YOU intend. All scientists (if you know anything about history and beliefs) are not atheists – so “scientists” as well as those who believe in a Creator should not be offended by the other’s view. To be too sensitive in either direction smacks of intolerance. Love your site, Daniel, but I think your response was a bit uncalled for. Overreacting, I would say.

  19. Peggy

    > The person who posted, just stated their thoughts,
    > not trying to influence anyone’s decision.
    It comes off like preaching! I’m totally on Daniel’s side, I’m so sick of being preached at! We don’t try to cram our views down your throat, why do you insist on doing so?
    Thank you, Daniel, for a great website, and for standing up to them. Not that it’ll do any good; it just makes them get more rabid. I’ve had them end conversations by screaming at me, “YOU’RE GONNA BURN IN HELL!” Yuk. On the other hand, no atheist or agnostic or scientist has ever screamed such things at me …

  20. procumbens

    A, could you answer me why the Creator is a “He” and not a “She”? You said: “He is above all things, without Him nothing that is would be” These creationists always consider God as a male, with beard and white hairs…

  21. Daune (Dawn!) Smith

    Kinda think my thoughts on what “I” believe has pierced through ‘science’ to the heart of the matter…that’s good!

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