Crassula capitella

    Crassula capitella
    Author: Ivan Latti
    Photographer: Ivan Latti

    Habitat may mean just bare sand. This Crassula capitella plant and a few neighbours grow here happily, judging by the appearance of their condition. Among the smaller associates sharing the patch are beginners of its own species. They may even be direct descendants, keeping company with what looks like red-leaved C. expansa subsp. filicaulis and some tiny shrubs that shall remain nameless. In certain neighbourhoods one does not inquire about names, past involvements and the like.

    Rain, temperature, wind and nutrients are currently adequate by the look of things. The future is unknown and life lasts until it doesn’t. If seeds are delivered, life’s mission is accomplished. The entire community subscribes to that.

    There is even an unknown seed with shiny hairs stuck among the leaves here. What might it become? A rude awakening for all? Very likely a surprise of size and growth habits, sprung out of the blue upon current residents. A true worry until it shows its colours, if plants could worry.

    Such is life in plant communities all over the world. Uninvited squatter or newcomer surprises impose life-threatening challenges upon current residents, without any recourse to "the authorities". No passport control or local bylaws to invoke, no sheriff to inform the intruder of requirements and possible violations. No standards set for fitting in or house rules. The unwelcome and the unsuitable just carry on. All thick-skinned as succulents. Everyone just keeps on growing as best it can, without a word.

    And do things go better in the land of laws as crafted by human society? Not at all! There is no respect for anything with a different chromosome count among people. Xenophobia abounds there. Rather rough it in the wild... be a plant.

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