Friday, September 27, 2019

Karoo Flowers

The flower spotting on our three-night Karoo wegbreek (escape) began from the car. I am usually the one hollering, Flower! or What's that? or just, Ooh! while the patient Frenchman slows, stops, and backs up to the desired spot. This time, because I was driving, it was Jacqueline-the-evolutionary-biologist-slash-closet-botanist spotting the blooms beside the road, and me slowing down and then reversing.

Beside the turn-off from the N1 (the tarred artery between Cape Town and Johannesburg) to Matjiesfontein, on our three-woman-way to the stone cottage at Snyderskloof, we found Moraea miniata.

After we had settled into our new home, we went for a walk up the dirt track behind the little cottage, into the low shale hills that provided the stone our walls were made of. Above, Cyanella growing right in the track.

Holothrix villosa, sheltering within the skeleton of a former bush. We saw dozens (of the orchids, but also dead bushes).

Monsonia (previously classified as Sarcocaulon), with silky, ephemeral flowers, spikily defended by sharp thorns. Flammable, apparently, and used as kindling. Its common name is bushman's candle.

Our walk gave us a wide view over our temporary homeland.

Jacqueline photographing Cyanella in a dry stream bed, stepped by shale.

It looks hot, but it was chilly. And within these apparently uniform sepia undulations, small botanical treasures.

Like Crassula tomentosa growing in the eroded bank of a seasonal stream - dry when we were there and probably only briefly in spate after serious rain.

Unsteady in the cold wind, tiny, ethereal Ixia rapunculoides.

And on another day, wandering on my own, I collected Pteronia incana (asbos in Afrikaans, meaning ash bush) - then unknown to me, but very appealing because of its intensely aromatic leaves; and Pentzia incana (the iconic and fragrant karoo bush) - both went into some juniper-forward and rather nice gin to make bitters for later vermouth.

On a drive back towards Matjiesfontein, the biologist begged to be let out near a rocky ridge. She found exquisite Aptosimum procumbens - the tiny Karoo violet. Last seen here and here.

And with a better sense of scale.

Ferraria crispa

And finally: Crassula columnaris. It flowers once in ten years. And then it dies.



1 comment:

  1. Wow! the flora of SA are so different from here and all so ethereal, yet hardy barely begins to describe their "life style". What a joy to be with ladies who share your love of all things growing.


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