Sunday, June 12, 2011

More Indigenous SA Flora

As I "go along" & share more of my photos on this blog, I'm amazed from what I'm also learning during my research on SA flora - how many flowering plants, by now known all over the world, actually are "natives" from our country South Africa! Other than what I've already posted [SEE: previous blog entries] a great variety of Watsonia species grow "naturally" in many parts of southern Africa. These flowers - like six-petalled stars - are either trumpet-shaped ot tubular & vary in colour from red, pink, white to darkish orange. Other than the 52 species of watsonia indigenous to southern Africa, there are now many hybrids.

Another SA indigenous flower is the Agapanthus, which grows in almost any soil, is also known in other parts of the world as "Lily of the Nile", although it's NOT a member of the lily family. Unfortunately these flowering plants are no longer common in their natural habitat, but instead are widely cultivated.

flower during summer-time and are either blue or white.

Plumbago plants in SA are originally "at home" in the coastal areas of the eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, although they are also native to other warm temperate to tropical regions of the world. Also called (Cape) leadwort, this name might refer to this multi-branched climbing shrub's clusters of lead-blue colour of the flowers OR because it was once thought to be a cure for lead poisoning!?

The (Cape) Everlastings are also known as "paper daisies" and in Afrikaans are called sewejaartjies - which reflects its longevity = 7 years. These flowers were given their popular name because they also retain their colour long after being picked, and their colour is sometimes enhanced by dyeing. During the days of the first settlers at the Cape Peninsula, these dried flowers were exported to Europe for use in flower decorations but ALSO as stuffing for mattresses!
Did you know that a superstition existed with regard to sewejaartjies-stuffed mattrasses? It was said that those sleeping on such mattresses would be blessed with prosperity & fertility.

The Golden guinea everlasting might be pretty to look at but has become a noxious weed in parts of the Eastern Cape, where carpets of shimmering silver and gold virtually cover otherwise grazing lands.

And then there are the Ericas - also called heath or heather - of which world-wide about 860 species are known, whilst more than 600 of these are indigenous to southern Africa! Most ericas are small shrubs with mainly tubular or bell-shaped flowers & together with proteas [SEE: one of my previous blog entries] & restios (= reed or grass species) are part of the Cape Floral Kingdom also known as fynbos.

I've posted a picture of these flowers before & to this day haven't been able to identify - HELP!? I simply call them Fairy Bells - but perhaps someone can assist by "properly" naming them? Personally I love this photo - another reason to post it again (brag a little :). I also assume it's an indigenous SA plant!?

Similarly I've posted this photo of Cosmos before although this is NOT a SA indigenous plant! Instead it's a native of scrub & meadow lands in the southern USA, Central & South America from where it was "accidentally" imported to South Africa. How/Why? It's said that the seed of Cosmos arrived in SA in bales of fodder for the horses of the British army during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902). These days the pink, white & lilac flowers "adorn" many road verges and fields on the Highveld during late summer and autumn - "heralding" Easter & some years ago (before the "date" changed), the last "preparations" for one of our most famous long-distance runs = The Comrades Marathon - at least that's what I remember our Comrades hero, Bruce Fordyce (= winner of 9 consecutive races) used to say about the "time" of the Cosmos.

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