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I stumbled across a trending reddit post "Lapidaria margaretae looks like stones" (as of 3rd Februrary 2015); but I could not find discussions as to reasons behind why.


  • Why do Lapidaria margaretae look like stones? I am interested in both the morphological/physiological reasons, as well as possible evolutionary mechanisms.
  • Or perhaps I am asking the wrong question, then what should it be?

enter image description here

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I've never seen a stone that looks like that… $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Mar 4, 2015 at 3:55

1 Answer 1


"Teleology is like a mistress to a biologist: he cannot live without her but he's unwilling to be seen with her in public." - J.B.S. Haldane (1892 - 1964)

I can't tell you why Lapidaria margaretae looks like 'stones'. But I can deduce something from the way this plant looks.

First and foremost, I can say this plant probably evolved in an arid region, possibly a desert (less than 10 inches of water per year), because it is a succulent, with a shape that comes pretty close to minimizing it's surface to volume area (decreased evaporation, decreased transpiration). Seeing as it's a dwarf and shaped as it is, I might hazard that it's windy and sandy where this plant evolved, also because of it's shape - low to the ground, sturdy, low surface area, able to resist the wind. Finally, the light color of the plant suggests a lot of bright sun (reflects sunlight more than some darker colors).

None of that is foolproof, but in this case, it turns out to be right; the plant comes from southern Namibia, and is commonly called the "Karoo rose".

This is one image of the Karoo region:

enter image description here

Stones come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, also influenced by water, wind and other environmental influences. That this plant looks like stones is mostly coincidental.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm struggling to understand the significance of the quote :/ $\endgroup$ Mar 4, 2015 at 9:10
  • $\begingroup$ ah.. well in your defence @anongoodnurse hmm step (2) of the scientific method (at least the Pirsigian six step flavour) requires us to dream up hypotheses! $\endgroup$ Mar 4, 2015 at 21:21

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