Halosarcia bulbosa (2011)

By Chris Deem (November 2011)

For a brief moment, the stripes on her rump and her stiff tail could have been seen. She walked on, without grace, as her eyes reflected in the soft moonlight. Her movements were cautious as she walked across a desolate wilderness in Western Australia. In her pouch, two tiny cubs slept. Many would say with certainly her species went extinct, but she was a thylacine.

Not long ago, a request was made for a book. The name of this book is Australian Succulent Plants, an Introduction, by Attila Kapitany. It was certainly an introduction for me, because I didn’t even know there were Australian succulents, did you?

On the dust jacket of this book, I saw the strangest succulent plant I had ever seen. At first, I thought it looked like marshmallows on sticks. After a closer look, I decided it looked more like some sort of pastel-colored jellied candy. It had a white waxy coating, but no, it was not candy, it was an Australian succulent.

The name of this plant is Halosarcia bulbosa. This strange shrub from western Australia is a member of the Chenopodiaceae family. In the Kapitany book, both the rarity of the species and the tiny size of its fragile habitat were mentioned. It was also implied that the species could possibly be of use to farmers in arid lands if it is not driven to extinction.

As for the thylacine, I refuse to give up hope. Perhaps she still walks in the soft moonlight. (Thylacines were or possibly are carnivorous marsupials.)