Spring is rolling in here on the Cape Peninsula after late winter rain, the wild flowers are abloom in swathes of rich tones. It makes the heart sing; the senses washed wild by the earthy scent of rain – petrichor, a counterpoint to all that sensuous colour.
The osteospermums were the first to make an appearance with the felicias and senecias opening close behind and now the vibrant vygies are splashing out in a voluptuous spread.
We celebrate the floral abundance here in the heart of one of Nature’s jewels: the Cape Floral Kingdom, one of the six floral kingdoms in the world. It may be the smallest, but it has an astonishing variety of over 8578 plant species and spring is a showcase season. Though there is always some delight to be discovered as different species flower throughout the year.
While writing this post I watch as a tiny fledgling – a Southern Double-collared sunbird flies hesitantly round the backyard as the parents hover, coaxing and calling. The nest was built high up in the Cape honeysuckle which grows up a trellis with long trailing tendrils. The sunbirds and the Cape Sugarbird serve as useful pollinators along with a fascinating array of insects.
To finish off, perhaps some inspiration from Sinding?
The showy Leucadendron laureolum puts on a worthy show across the mountain slopes.
The yellow flower heads show up against the green folliage.
Protea lepidocarpodendron – the handsome Black-bearded protea.
Berzelia lanuginosa – Kolkol, vleiknoppiesbos.
Oedera uniflora – prolific flowerers – their flowers stand up to the fierce winds.
Protea coronata – Green sugarbush protea
Mimetes fimbriifolius, Tree pagoda
Leucadendron laureolum in full bloom.
Glorious yellow, Leucadendron laureolum.
Prolific flowering in July.
In the early 20th C hunters had all but wiped out this species of antelope. Only seventeen survived. Thankfully conservation-minded farmers established a reserve in 1931 and fortunately their numbers increased and today they flourish.
Swathes of yellow catch the eye as the mountain slopes in the southern part of the Cape Peninsula are in full bloom with the showy Leucadendrons (the cone families of the Protea species). Winter is a dynamic time for a number of the protea species – Blackbeards and Green sugarbush proteas also flower showing off stylish flower heads.
The variety of wildflowers in bloom after the effect of fire still continues to add swathes of colour to the mountainsides. The dense stands of powder puffs in the Silvermine area and the bloodroot flowers in the section of the Cape Point reserve steal the show in their shades of lilac and mauve.
The flower head of Dilatris pillansii – a rhizomatous perennial.
Capturing a close-up reveals the reddish tint.
They’re impressive when grouped together.
The Lilac powderpuffs – Pseudoselago spuria
The densely packed flowers form a flat-topped cluster
We may have one of the world’s richest floral kingdoms (The Cape Floristic Region) here in the Cape, but with one in six plants being declared critically rare or endangered it is sadly one of the most threatened.
A lot of work is being done to save these endangered species and the plant above (Erica verticillata) is one of those success stories.
“The story of Erica verticillata is unique in the annals of plant conservation in South Africa. It was regarded as extinct in the wild, or ‘perhaps exterminated’ (Adamson & Salter 1950), by the second half of the 20th century. It was rediscovered in a park in Pretoria in 1984 and, since then, in various botanical gardens around the world and brought back into cultivation at Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. The species has become one of Kirstenbosch’s flagship conservation species and has been re-established to three Sand Plain Fynbos reserves within the urban sprawl of Cape Town. These include Rondevlei Nature Reserve, Kenilworth Racecourse Conservation Area and the Tokai Park under management of the South African National Parks. Its status remains Extinct in the Wild and will be re-assessed when it has survived three burn cycles in the wild without restocking or replanting.” (Extract from PlantzAfrica.com).
Happily in a previous post here, I can boast of having a couple of these rare plants in our backyard – which in turn attract the sunbirds and their valuable pollination services.