Trunk to 12 feet high with a terminal tuft of leaves. Leaves long-linear, recurved, rigid, galbrous. Flowers blue, 1.5 inches across; segments 1.25 to 1.5 inches long, 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide, glabrous without; anthers 1/2 inch long, nearly sessile, peduncles dark above, somewhat bristly beneath ovary; ovary oblong, densely covered with ascending brown bristles.
One of the most remarkable characteristics of Xerophyta species is that they are able to survive long periods without water. Once the leaves of the X. retinervis are air-dry, they can remain viable for prolonged periods. The dry winter season lasts 5 to 6 months. When it rains again, the plants rehydrate completely and remarkably resume their full metabolic functions within 24 to 72 hours.4
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