Monadenium ritchiei Origin and Habitat: Eastern Africa, Kenya (Meru Distr. NE end of Nyambeni Hills, lagadema Hill)
Type locality: Kenya, Meru District, Lagadema Hill
Altitude range: c. 1150 metres above sea level.
Habitat: Rocky slopes, Monadenium ritchiei subs. nyambense grows on a well drained soil in tussock grassland on rocky slopes with some water in summer and none in winter.
Description: Monadenium ritchiei subsp. nyambense is a small clumping perennial succulent, with a thick fleshy rootstock that form large compact clumps with time. It is a dwarf subspecies distinguished by shorter, thinker and more numerous stems which are very knobby and erect. The leaves are glabrous and has deep pink cyathia (flowers). It is the most widely grown form.
Stems: Erect, decumbent and rhizomatous, thick, dark green, tessellated, numerous, branching above, erect to 15 cm. high and to 3 cm.
Tubercles: Prominent, conical more or less rounded, to 1 x 1.5 cm wide at the base and to 4 mm high, bearing the leaves in usually 5 tightly spiralled series.
Stipular spines: 3-5 surrounding the leaf-scar, small and very short, each to 2.5 mm long but soon breaking off.
Leaves: Sessile, broadly obovate, 2,5-4 cm long, light green deciduous and fleshy, apex obtuse, apiculate, margin entire and minutely crisped. If grown in enough light the leaves (and stems) can take on a purple hue.
Roots: Thickened and fleshy .
Inflorescence (cymes): On stout peduncles to 8 mm long, 1-forked with usually both branches developing, arising in the axils of the tubercles and occasionally flanked by a minute prickle. Bract-cup slightly longer than the involucre, ± 7 x 6 mm, shallowly notched between acute apices and prominent midribs.
Flowers (cyathia): Approx 6 long, 5 mm across. Bract-cup and the whole cyathium bright pink, with a deep red margin to the glandular rim of the involucre. Glandular rim 2.5 mm high. Lobes rounded, 1.2 mm long and broad.
Male flowers: Bracteoles laciniate, puberulous. Stamens 3.3 mm long.
Female flower: Perianth evident in fruit as a 3-lobed rim, to 3 mm in diameter. Styles 1.5 mm long, joined at the base, with thickened rugulose bifid apices.
Fruits (capsules): Exserted on a stout pedicel to 6 mm long, acutely 3-lobed with truncate base, 4.5 long by the same width, and with a pair of narrow fleshy crenulate ridges along the angles.
Seeds: Oblong, obtusely 4-angled, with truncate base, 3 x 1.75 mm, grey, minutely tuberculate; car uncle domed, 1 mm in diameter.
Blooming season: Late in the summer or in autumn, just before or as it goes dormant.