Bizarre rock formations and desolate terrain comprise the Greater and Lesser Karoos in Africa.

The light and heat are intense, and in some years there is no rain, only fog. Amazingly, in this harsh environment, exist the “sphaeroids”, miniature succulent members of the family Mesembryanthemaceae known as “Mesembs”. Sphaeroids have evolved ingenious strategies to maximize water conservation. In times of extreme drought, sphaeroids can become flush with the soil, with only the “windows” at the tips of the leaves exposed. In this manner, the “windows” diffuse the light entering for photosynthesis, minimizing the effects of the intense heat and light. This group includes the granite-like pebbles of “Split Rocks” (Pleiospilos), the intricately marked “Stone Faces” (Lithops), and many others like the reptilian Tiger Jaws (Faucaria), Baby Toes (Fenestraria), and all of the vivid cultivars of ice plant used extensively in landscapes. As late summer and early fall signals the end of bloom for many plants, Mesembs are just awakening from summer dormancy and soon astonish with their late afternoon satiny flowers.