Aspalathus alpestris

March 13, 2019

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Aspalathus, the genus to which the rooibos tea plant belongs, is the largest member of the pea family endemic to South Africa. Aspalathus linearis, commonly known as the rooibos tea plant, is the only species of economic value.  This above, is Aspalathus alpestris is a sprawling shrublet with slender branches. The leaves are single flat and narrowly-spear shaped. The hard spiny tip makes the whole plant quite spikey. The flowers are pale to bright yellow. They can occur singularly or in a raceme of up to 6 flowers. All the flower parts are hairless except for the back of the standard (standard = two elongate keel petals that are fused together). It is always fascinating to capture the legume in each species as often this is an important identification tool. In each species the legume appears different with diverse characteristics such as long or short tails, stout or thin pods, hairy or hairless etc – its really amazing to explore.

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