Species of Malephora are sometimes upright, creeping shrubs, with distinct internodes from which roots may arise. Leaf pairs are slightly fused at the base. Leaves are smooth-textured, bright to bluish green, fleshy (succulent), soft and usually covered with a thick, waxy bloom that is easily rubbed off.
Their showy flowers are golden yellow, deep orange or reddish purple, and occur singly or in small clusters. The undersurfaces of petals are often a rich purple colour, differing from the orange or yellow upper surfaces. Four or five unequal sepals enclose the buds. The ovary consists of twelve parts and numerous golden yellow, pollen-laden stamens encircle twelve feathery stigmas. The fruit capsules are corky (as opposed to woody), and contain twelve covered seed chambers. The fruit are hygrochastic (opening when wet) and the flattish, rough-textured seeds are mostly dispersed by rain. As in some other mesembs belonging to the tribe Apatesieae, a few seed are held back in secret chambers at the base of the ovary, and are dispersed at a later stage
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