Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Jewels in Nature

Before I got hooked on photographing birds, I enjoyed finding photogenic-looking flowers. That's what I'd like to share today.
I'm getting quite good at identifying birds and think of myself as a "fundi" with regard to the South African wild animals found in our game parks - but plants?! I have an eye for what has an appearance that will look pleasing on a photograph, but I can't as yet identify many of the flowers I see and photographed. So what is represented in my first photo? Are these "Fairy Bells"?

And this one (on the left)? Does this flower belong to the orchid family?

If you zoom in on this photo (right), you can see what I mean when I say the stamen and stigma have a jewel-like appearance. Is this a water-lily?

I think the jewel-like effect of the stamen and stigma-ends are even more pronounced in this photo (left). I'm always amazed again at the beauty of many flowers, which look so gorgeous on photos.

No problem here - I know that this is a Strelizia, also known as the "bird of paradise" or "crane" flower (resembling the head of a crane). I've seen Strelitzia in the Western Cape Province, which appear to belong to the reed-family (Cape Flora = "fynbos"??) instead of the more customary leaves.

I'm also very familiar with this gorgeous flower, the Impala Lily, with its star-shaped petals. I've often seen it in the Kruger National Park, and growing most profusely in the more northern parts of our country, e.g. in Musina (Messina).

Since I tend to "see things" in all kinds of phenomena (e.g. faces or figures in clouds, sand, stones), to me the "subject" in this photo resembles a cute little face - the eyes are there, a small tongue and little tufts of hair under a funny "hat". What kind of berry or flower this is, I have no clue. I only remember detecting it on a bush growing in Kirstenbosch Botanic Garden (Cape Town).

Did you know how Cosmos was first introduced to our country (the flowers, which at this time of the year, grow so profusely in fields and next to our roads all over the country)? Since it's not an indigenous plant, it's said that the seed arrived in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) via food supplies for the horses of the British soldiers, shipped in from South America! Hidden in bales of grass/hay, the seeds started to sprout along the then, supply routes - today, our national roads.

I hope you enjoyed my "visual" garden.

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