Sunday, January 9, 2011

A tiny orchid on a big mountain

We climbed* the mountain yesterday, starting from Skeleton Gorge - mission: disas, the orchids that grow up there in the quick-changing heat and mist of Table Mountain. We saw plenty of Disa uniflora, still in tender pale green bud, their feet nearly always in or near the clear water of the mountain, and which in about two weeks will open in a riot of scarlet, but I was hoping to spot other disas, that bloom earlier.

Then, about two-and-a-half hours into our hike, in the mossy wall of the Aqueduct, I saw this:

The flower was only about a centimeter across.

At home my books yielded nothing, except a pink and suggestively-named Disa vaginata. After Googling it for a better view, though, I came up with a thread on an orchid forum that yielded results: Disa glandulosa.

* I say 'climbing' because on Skeleton Gorge one has to climb some ladders and scramble over boulders in the almost-vertical kloof bed. That's the fun part. Up to that point it's just a steady, uphill, huffing and puffing (for me) slog. Many more pictures to come.

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