“After three consecutive posts on one species, I will not mention it for a while now. Promise.”
I wrote this in October last year and the species I referred to was the same one as the subject of this post. After being silent on the topic for some ten months, I now have reason to bring it up again.
Last Sunday I visited “Vrolykheid Nature Reserve”, which is situated between Robertson and McGregor. The plant pictured here was only one of a couple of interesting finds this little known reserve proved to have in stock.
When I had a look at some plants of Drosanthemum speciosum with very dark scarlet flowers, I suddenly noticed one plant with exquisite silvery pink flowers. In all other respects it looked like a run-of-the-mill D.speciosum. Nevertheless I checked out all my available literature and found out that the flower colour is described as “red to orange” and” bright orange to crimson”.
The only book with a different opinion is “Vygies, gems of the veld” by Van Jaarsveld en De Villiers Pienaar. What they say is the following: “Flowers up to 50 mm in diameter, usually orange, flaming scarlet or red. There are however yellow, rose-pink and even pale pink or straw-coloured forms of the plant.”
There is a similar species with pink flowers growing near Ceres (D. bellum), but there the leaves are more or les cylindrical and recurved at the tip, whereas in D. speciosum the leaves are “semi-cylindrical or trigonous, incurved like horns”.
The home of this species is the Knersvlakte, where it forms shrubs up to 15 cm tall. The flowers appear in winter (June/July); they are up to 2.5 cm in diameter and white, cream- or lemon-coloured.
The last picture shows young seedlings in cultivation.
From late Winter to early Summer one can find this species in flower in southern Namibia and many parts of South Africa. It is an important pioneer on disturbed soil, e.g. roadsides, forming mats of up to a meter across. For that reason it is also a good ground cover in suitable climates.
The hairy stems make it usually easy to recognize this plant. The beautiful bladder cells on the leaves are best admired in back light.
In my first post on this species, I referred to the fact that the flowers not only came in red, but also in orange. As I had never seen these in the wild, I could not show you a picture. In my former garden I even had a plant with yellow flowers, but as it originated from a nursery I could not be sure it was not a cultivar. So it would not be fair to show you a picture pretending it was of a wild plant.
I also mentioned that the plants are often seen along roads, but again I had no picture to substantiate this.
As it happens, I was on an outing yesterday that took me to the Ouberg pass, northeast of Montagu. Lots of flowering D. speciosum there, but non of them in red or scarlet as usual.
They were all orange,
apart from a few almost pure yellow ones.
As a bonus, there was also a specimen growing almost in the road.
After three consecutive posts on one species, I will not mention it for a while now. Promise.
Yesterday I showed you some documentary type of pictures.
Confronted with all these beautiful flowers, it was clearly a waste of opportunities to not have another and different look at them. Although we talk about looking at things with different eyes, in reality we should call it looking with a different (part of the) brain.
In a case like this I usually have to take a deliberate decision to let the right hemisphere of my brain take over.
Once you are in that mode, it is sometimes difficult to stop; it is almost like being in a feeding frenzy. Anyway, I came home with a lot of pictures , many of which were very similar. This to me is one of the beauties of digital photography: the fact that there is no need to restrict yourself to taking a few pictures. Mind you, I’m not endorsing an attitude of just mindlessly taking lots of snapshots hoping that some of them will turn out right. (Recently I saw that nicely described as “point and pray”). But I do think that often it is good to “go with the flow”.
Below you will find a couple of pictures that for one reason or other seem worth showing to you.
The first three pictures give a general idea of the abundance of colour in these flowers.
The second pair shows a more deliberate approach. It’s a case of ” can you spot the difference(s)? “.
I found the old fruit in the first picture a bit disturbing, so I removed it before taking the second one. On reflection, I think that the fruit adds interest to an otherwise somewhat empty space in the picture. The fact that it also gives some extra information seems to me less important in this kind of picture.
The next photo was slightly cropped in post production, resulting in a very balanced image. For some of us probably even a bit too balanced and formal.
We end with a picture that I like because of the cheeky way a few of the petals refuse to follow the general pattern.
These plants occur in the eastern part of the Little Karoo and just north of it. They may become up to a meter tall and have flowers about 4 cm across.
A few weeks ago my friend George Hattingh, who is about as mad about succulents as I am, told me that he had seen some beautiful succulents in flower which he could not identify. They were growing on top of the Rooiberg, a little mountain range just South of Calitzdorp which you have to cross on the way to Vanwyksdorp. As the road meanders its way up, it takes you through different vegetation zones. At the lower slopes a lot of succulents are found, whereas the plateau with its moister and colder climate is covered in arid fynbos. In winter and early spring the fynbos is at its best, with many different plant in flower. This type of vegetation harbours only few succulents, but some of the ones that do grow there are rather interesting. One of the plants George had found is probably an Antimima, but these I often find difficult to name. All suggestions are welcome.
The other species was clearly a Drosanthemum, but which one? After going through the literature, the only species of which the description fitted was D. striatum. According to the “Red List of South African Plants” (2009) this is a vulnerable species with only 10 locations remaining after much its habitat has been transformed for wheat and vineyard cultivation. The distribution range is given as: Malmesbury and Worcester to Swellendam and Bredasdorp. This is well outside the Calitzdorp area (even the nearest of these places is at least a 100 kms away). This new find means that the species has a rather wider distribution than assumed; hopefully it also means that it is less vulnerable than thought.
The peculiar thing is that we never found the plants before. The most likely explanation is that -like many other fynbos plants- they only flowers after fire. Or maybe we just missed them because they were too well hidden by all the vegetation that is normally present. Even without flowers they would have been much more visible without all kinds of other plants hiding them. At this moment (about seven months after a big fire on the mountain) large patches are still almost bare, so anything colourful stands out.
Whatever the reason, it just shows that interesting botanical discoveries can still be found in this part of the world.