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Lithops project blog


This is the blog page of the Lithops Project, in which we investigate the extent and evolution of locally optimized camouflage coloration in the enigmatic African "stone plants" belonging the genus Lithops.

In the first part of the project, we use hyperspectral and multispectral camera equipment for making detailed comparisons of the visual properties of Lithops species and the soil on which they grow across numerous locations in southern Africa.

We set out for our second month-long field expedition on June 27, 2018. As on the 2016 expedition, we aim to post updates every 2-3 days.

Our imaging expeditions are supported by National Geographic Society Science and Exploration Europe. Hyperspectral camera equipment is provided by Specim Spectral Imaging Ltd. and the Surface Optics Corporation.

For more information on our project, check out

Winter is coming…

Expedition blog 2018 Posted on Thu, July 05, 2018 11:29PM

Recharging stop in Kimberley. The rains have ended during our northward travel, but the South African winter has shown its strength during the last days, so the nights have been cold. The sunrises are very beautiful though.

Frosty morning with icy fog surrounding our camp next to an irrigation channel.

Unhappy field biologists demonstrating spoon frozen onto a plate during the night.

On the road again

Expedition blog 2018 Posted on Sun, July 01, 2018 09:44PM

Feels good to be on the road again! We headed up north from Cape Town on Thursday morning, and entered the distribution of our first target species, Lithops localis, in the evening. The weather of the first three days has not favored our efforts, as it has been mostly cold, windy and variably cloudy. Especially clouds passing over the sun substantially complicate taking multi- and hyperspectral images, which require long exposure times. And the plants remain just as difficult to find as before. Nevertheless, we’ve managed to image altogether five L. localis and L. comptonii populations. Right now we have stopped for the night in Vanrhynsdorp, where our program mainly consists of showering, charging batteries, and backing up files. It’s raining outside.

Some rare moments of sunshine.

Searching for Lithops localis. The flags mark found individuals.

Lithops localis. This probably explains why Lithops plants are hard to find.


Expedition blog 2018 Posted on Mon, June 25, 2018 10:32PM

This feels a bit like when a space probe suddenly awakens and sends a faint ping after years of silence and uncertainty, but… the Lithops Project is alive!

The journey since the 2016 expedition has been long and tedious, but now we’re fervently preparing for the second expedition, which will start on Wednesday June 27, 2018. The aims and determination are still the same, but more people are involved and the mission is to gather more data than on the first trip.

More updates will follow soon!