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The name derives from the Greek words "brachýs" (short), and "stemma" (crown). This genus, which includes more than 100 species, was first described by Robert Brown in 1822. Plants in this genus have a caudex that stores water to survive drought periods, from which one or more branched stems emerge. It blooms with attractive flowers that give off a particular smell. Even today, in the Bushmen tribe, the Brachystelma tuber, once cooked, is used for food.