Photo of the week – Ceropegia nilotica

Photo of the week – Ceropegia nilotica



Photo: S. Rügheimer
(Free use of the information and of the photographs is granted for non-commercial and educational purposes.)

Interactions with animals

Interactions with animals

It is well known that Ceropegia spp. are pollinated by small to very small flies from several families, so it is not really a surprise to find predatory invertebrates like spiders at the flowers or near the flowers.

One such example can be found on page 14 in P. G. Archer’s ‘Kenya Ceropegia Scrapbook’ from 1992, where a crab spider is photographed sitting very prominently close to a flower of a Ceropegia abyssinica Decne. ready for action.


When Prof. J. Ollerton, who investigates pollinators and pollinator-plant-interactions in great detail, dissected flowers of ca. 50 years old herbarium specimens of Ceropegia nilotica Kotschy, he did not only found dried flies on occasion but discovered in one of the flowers two (unidentified) ants – caught in the act; one of them still had a part of a fly wing in its mouth parts, meaning it has been collected and preserved in the act of eating one of the probable pollinators!

Well, this is obviously still the only known case of ants eating flies inside a Ceropegia flower so far, I personally do not know of any other one.

But of course it leads to several questions:

Does that occur more often?
Does that occur all over Ceropegia’s range?
Which ant species are involved?

… and so on ….


BTW: According to a very recent study, Ceropegia nilotica mostly attracts flies from the genus Desmometopa, so-called freeloader flies (family Milichiidae), and from the genus Forcipomyia, biting midges (family Ceratopogonidae). [2]

… more of that is coming soon ….



[1] Jeff Ollerton: Fly trapping in Ceropegia flowers – evidence of ant-predation on pollinators. Asklepios 77: 31-32. 1999
[2] Annemarie Heiduk; Irina Brake; Michael v. Tschirnhaus; Jean-Paul Haenni; Raymond Miller; John Hash; Samuel Prieto-Benítez; Andreas Jürgens; Steven D. Johnson; Stephan Schulz; Sigrid Liede-Schumann; Ulrich Meve; Stefan Dötterl: Floral scent and pollinators of Ceropegia trap flowers. Flora; puplished online: 1-Feb-2017

I couldn’t resist …

I couldn’t resist …

… and got me a Ceropegia africana, and just another clone of Ceropegia nilotica, that aroused my interest, because I found a dropped flower that was somewhat strangely coloured.



Ceropegia africana is a very easy species, and one of my absolute favorites, yet it will always die back and I have never managed to get cuttings soon enough, very bad!   😦

Ceropegia sandersonii x nilotica

Ceropegia sandersonii x nilotica

Diese Form ist eine der wenigen, echten Naturhybriden der Gattung.

Der Hybrid tauchte zuerst in Kultur auf, muss aber als Naturhybrid betrachtet werden, da die Pflanzen auf Samen zurückgehen, die in der Natur gesammelt wurden, genauer von einer Ceropegia sandersonii Decne. ex Hook. f. aus den Makatini Flats in KwaZulu-Natal in Südafrika.

Die Pflanze wurde bereits in R. A. Dyers ‘Ceropegia, Brachystelma and Riocreuxia in southern Africa’ abgebildet (als Ceropegia grandis E. A. Bruce). [1][2]


Das Foto zeigt eine kultivierte Pflanze die wahrscheinlich diesen Hybrid darstellt.


Ceropegia sandersonii x nilotica

This form is one of very few true natural hybrids within this genus.

The hybrid appeared first in cultivation, yet is still to be regarded as a natural hybrid since the plants originated from seed that was collected in the wild, to be more precise from a Ceropegia sandersonii Decne. ex Hook. f. growing in the Makatini Flats in KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.

The plant was already depicted in R. A. Dyers ‘Ceropegia, Brachystelma and Riocreuxia in southern Africa’ (as Ceropegia grandis E. A. Bruce). [1][2]


The photograph shows a plant in cultivation that probably represents this hybrid.



[1] R. A. Dyer: Ceropegia, Brachystelma and Riocreuxia in southern Africa. A A Balkema Publishers 1983
[2] Ralph Peckover: The Ceropegias of the Makatini Flats. Aloe 30(1): 20-22. 1993



Photo: Friedericke Hübner & Ulrich Tränkle; by courtesy of Friedericke Hübner & Ulrich Tränkle