Common name: Babies' toes
Scientific name:Hydrodea cryptantha
IUCN status: Low risk
Babies' toes grows in a large numbers, in the most barren, arid and rock area of the Island at Sandy Bay (even right up to the sea's edge), Stone Cap, Turks Cap and Prosperous Bay Plain. Babies' toes can be seen growing alongisde the creeper of Hottentot fig (Carpobrotus edulis), Atriplex and Mesymbryanthteum crystallinum or ice plant. Also the indigenous species: Suaeda fruticosa, or Samphire, Portulaca oleracea or purslane and Ophioglossum opacum, a small species of fern. At Sandy Bay beach also grows close to the endemics: Hypertelis acida, the St Helena Salad Plant and Osteospermum Sanctaae helenae, the Bone Seed.
Babies' toes is a small succulent (it is adapted to growing in in very dry conditions and stores water within its tissues giving the stems/leaves a fleshy appearance). It is a distant relative of the more common creeper. The young plants first apper after the winter rains from May to June. The plants are bright green on colour when young, turning yellow with age and finally drying up around November to December as the weather becomes hotter. Flowering occurs iaround August to September. The small flowers are white in colour and ar much like those of the ice plant, also a distant relative and very common species of the Crown Wastes.
A single plant seldom spread more than 15 inches in diameter, and only reaches 1-2 inches in height. The plant is so succulent that it will not support its own weight, so it spreads across the ground in a compact mass.
NUMBER OF SURVIVING POPULATIONS
The are four main populations in the wild. These populations have been recovering well since the removal of the goats from the Crown Wastes, They are presently not threatened and now exist in the thousands.
CONSERVATION RECOVERY PROGRAMMES
Babies' toes like the other dryland endemic species (scrubwoods, salad plant, bone seed and also the indigenous samphire) have been recovering naturally since the removal of goats from the Crown wastes. Because numbers have been recovering and no immediate threats to the populations have so far been identified, there has been no urgent need to reinforce the wild populations. Conservation measures that will be carried out are the collection of seed for "safe-keeping" and the distribution of seed to increase the areas already covered by this species.