Rapinat Ceropegia
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Rapinat Ceropegia
P Native Photo: C. Rajasekar
Common name: Rapinat Ceropegia
Botanical name: Ceropegia rapinatiana    Family: Apocynaceae (Oleander family)
Synonyms: Brachystelma rapinatianum

Rapinat Ceropegia is a new species which differs from the other short-stemmed, non-climbing species in India by its relatively long flower-tube which completely contains the corona and is only slightly shorter than the petals. The manner in which the petals remain mostly erect or spread only slightly is also characteristic. Rapinat Ceropegia is named for Alfred Rapinat (1892-1959), who founded the Department of Plant Science at St Joseph’s College, Tiruchirapalli. It is a perennial geophytic herb up to 15 cm tall, arising from an underground spherical to spherical cream or pale brown tuber, 1.5-2.5 x 0.8-2.5 cm. Stems are annual, unbranched, erect, slender, greenish purple. Leaves are nearly stalkless, thin, opposite, narrowly elliptic to linear or oblong, glandular-finely-velvet-hairy, 1-1.5 x 0.1-0.2 cm, with wedge-shaped or narrow base, margins entire and shortly ciliolate, gradually pointed, apiculate. Flowers are borne in leaf-axils, in cymes alongside middle to upper nodes, 2- to 5-flowered, flowers opening in gradual succession, flower-cluster-stalk slender, 0.8-1.5 cm long. Flower-stalks are 0.4-2 cm long, slender, nearly equal to flower-cluster-stalk, glandular-hairy, bracts linear, 1-2 mm long; sepals lanceshaped, green with purplish margins, 1 × 0.5 mm, glandular-finely velvet-hairy. Flowers are bell-shaped, bud beaked and up to 7 x 4 mm; tube about 2 mm long and nearly 2 mm broad at mouth, cup-like and slightly constricted near mouth, pale green to purplish; lobes keeled at base, erect to slightly spreading, pale green with purplish spots along reflexed margins, lanceshaped-triangular, 2.5-3.5 x 1 mm, pointed, outside hairless, inside with stiff to soft whitish hairs. Seedpods are up to 4 cm long, spreading to erect, pointed. Rapinat Ceropegia is only known from scattered areas on the plains near Tiruchirappalli in central Tamil Nadu. Flowering: October-December.

Identification credit: C. Rajasekar Photographed in Pudukkottai, Tamil Nadu.

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