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Fenestraria rhopalophylla.JPG
Fenestraria rhopalophylla
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Aizoaceae
Subfamily: Ruschioideae
Tribe: Ruschieae
Genus: Fenestraria
F. rhopalophylla
Binomial name
Fenestraria rhopalophylla
(Schltr. & Diels) N.E.Br.

Fenestraria aurantiaca

Fenestraria (known as babies' toes[1] or window plant[citation needed]) is a (possibly monotypic) genus of succulent plants in the family Aizoaceae, native to the Namaqualand in Namibia.


F. rhopalophylla in flower
F. rhopalophylla subsp. aurantica

The only species currently recognised in this genus is Fenestraria rhopalophylla. Each leaf has an epidermal window, a transparent window-like area, at its rounded tip, it is for these window-like structures that the genus is named (Latin: fenestra).

Fenestraria rhopalophylla appears very similar to Frithia pulchra, though the leaves are a slightly different shape and F. rhopalophylla has yellow flowers, compared to the pink flowers of F. pulchra.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

In the wild, the plant commonly grows under sand, except for the transparent tips, which allow light into the leaves for photosynthesis. The plant produces optical fibers made from crystalline oxalic acid[2] which transmit light to subterranean photosynthetic sites.

Fenestraria rhopalophylla is native to Namaqualand in southern Africa and to Namibia. The plants generally grow in sandy or calciferous soils under low < 100 mm rainfall, that occurs in the winter.


  • F. rhopalophylla subsp. rhopalophylla with white flowers in autumn
  • F. rhopalophylla subsp. aurantiaca (=*F. aurantiaca) with yellow flowers

The status of Fenestraria aurantiaca is under review to determine whether its proper status is that of a full species or a subspecies of Fenestraria rhopalophylla.[3][4]


  1. ^ USDA GRIN Taxonomy, retrieved 19 August 2016
  2. ^ Featured plant: Fenestraria rhopalophylla subsp. aurantiaca, retrieved 25 August 2020
  3. ^ The Plant List (2010). Version 1. Published on the Internet; http://www.theplantlist.org/ (accessed June 2013)
  4. ^ Fenestraria - page on Succulent Guide