May: Wild Flowers – Protea

Another post on wild flowers for Jude’s challenge – Proteas this time – specially for  Maurice over at iAMsafari. Hiking in the mountains or along the coast here in the Cape and you’re bound to come across a number of different protea.  They’re a magnificent genus  from the King protea to the spiderheads, blackbeards, silkypuffs, pincushions, cones, etc and pretty rife with showy species.  There are about 360 different species in southern Africa; Australia has many more – 800 (according to the Sasol Field Guide).

May: Wild flowers

Aloe_arborescens Metalsia_muricata_Erica_mammosa Oxalis_monophylla

Protea_repens_Sugarbush

Jude calls for Wild flowers in May; though it’s spring in the northern hemisphere, the autumn months in the Cape also bring a wealth of showy species.  It’s the start of the rainy season and the plants in flower tend to be structural and sturdy like the aloes, sugarbush, red hot pokers.   Varieties of erica are also flowering, and the blombos continues to add it’s piquant fragrance.  Not to be too boastful about our incredible wild flower heritage, the Cape has some 9000 flowering species and falls under the Cape Floristic Region – one of the world’s six floral kingdoms.   It’s a stunning wealth and nowhere else in the world is there such profusion of endemism and concentration of species. How fortunate we are to have so many different species flowering throughout the year.  I’ll be back with more!

 

Haemanthus sanguineus or the April Fool

The fire razed veld in the Circular Drive area of the Cape Point reserve continues to beguile.  It’s become an exhibition arena for plants which are usually crowded out by the dominant ericoids, proteoids and restionaceae.  And nature’s moving along smartly here with a fabulous showing of these geophyte paintbrush lilies / April fool flowers.  Each day brings further rewards as they bloom forth in prolific form.

It’s interesting to note that this species of Haemanthus blooms profusely after fire.

Mountain dahlia: Liparia splendens

Today I was lucky to discover a plant I’ve been keeping an eye out for years: a mountain dahlia and it lives up to it’s description ‘splendens’.  It’s a showy flower, pollinated by sunbirds especially the little Orange breasted.   Found on a mountain slope in the Silvermine reserve, it grows in an area which was ravaged by fire in March. It’s interesting to see that there are young plants around the more mature shrubs.

Mountain dahlia_APR4566

The striking colours and size make a gorgeous ‘ornate’ species.

Cape Snow

It’s a visual “treat” when the first dusting of Cape snow arrives and we know that summer is just around the corner.

Cape Snow _ Syncarpha vestita Cape Snow _papery bracts

The flowers and their white papery bracts have adapted to coping with moisture loss during the hot, dry and windy conditions of the Cape summer.

And the “Ice” plants are looking good too:

Ice plant_flower bud

We’re a fanciful lot down here at the southern end of Africa – when the sun beats down and the temperatures rise, we look over white veld and pretend that it is full of cool snow, catching the glint of winter through the shimmer of  ice plants.

The post is in response to the WPC theme: “Treat”.