Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A new flower is discovered - you could name it

New Hermannia species. Photo: David Gwynne-Evans

I received an email from botanist David Gwynne-Evans - who also calls himself The Naked Bloganist.

It spoke of something he called Road Reserves and a new species of flower that he discovered growing in one: dolls rose; better known to me as Hermannia. Two weeks after discovering this new species, it had been mown down by road crews.

But what, I asked, is a road reserve?

It's that strip of land beside the highway, subject to mowing. Oh. That perked my interest. Recently my friend Glenn Switzer, a Minnesotan nursery owner and landscape designer, ranted about watching the wildflower strip being mown down heedlessly, beside a nearby highway. (Then he intervened and saved it).

Road reserve, Minnesota. Photo: Glenn Swizter

In South Africa, Vince and I have stopped countless times, on the N1, the N7, the N2 - arterial blacktops, so that I could backtrack and photograph a flower I have seen, growing right beside the tar.

                                                Road reserve, Northern Cape, South Africa

                                                Stateside, there is a similar squealing of brakes:

Coltsfoot in the Catskills

Road reserves, it turns out,  are a perversely rich area for unique flora to survive.

David writes: "... many of the plants that otherwise succumbed to agriculture and urbanisation have survived in fragments along roads. These delicate ecosystems are being systematically degraded by municipalities throughout the country, acting on insensitive, misguided and outdated legislation."

David took samples of the plant to acclaimed silversmith, Nic Bladen who had them cast in sterling silver. Only one flower cast successfully, and was transformed into a pendant.

To raise funding to document and protect these roadsides and to raise awareness of their role in species diversity, David decided to put the silver flower up for auction, along with - wait for it -  the right to name the new species.

Think of it: Hermannia estorbensis. Hermannia frenchmanii. Hermannia hanginthereianthus, Hermannia uptheweedwackus...

To contribute to his stellar cause and win the right to name a flower, please visit his online auction. The last day to bid is September 7th.

It seems like a perfect, substantial - and eternal -  birthday present for someone you love.

What would you call this hitherto undescribed and beautiful flower?


  1. Would name it after my lovely Mum, who at 80 is being stolen away from us by Alzheimer's. She was named by my grandad after the gemstone 'Red Beryl', which is also one of my birthstones. An avid gardener and talented cook in her day, it suits her perfectly - vibrant, strong, brilliant, precious.

  2. Thus maybe Hermannia Beryllus. Can't afford to join in with the bidding but a lovely thought : )

  3. Jelli's Mum wins..Should be a flower for Jelli, too..


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