Articles:BULB CHAT September 2010 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 05 June 2011 16:05

BULB CHAT September 2010

August Meeting 2010

A Visit to the “Botanicus Hillius”

In place of our Spring plant table at the end of August, we had an invitation to visit Allan Hill’s newly-established greenhouses. Those intrepid members who braved the rain and cold wind to drive out to Kraaifontein were treated to a feast of spring flowering geophytes such as may not have been seen in the veld this year. The tall shadecloth tunnels housing Allan’s collection were spacious, allowing air to move freely, and, despite the lack of bright sun, the flowers were open, protected from the elements. The plants are growing very successfully in the local sand in long raised beds.

They are not grouped together by family and genus. A by-no-means comprehensive list, likewise not specifically/particularly grouped, follows: Alan Horstmann pointed out many of the species.

Sparaxis villosa (from Malmesbury).

Lachenalia stayneri

Freesia laxa (Anomatheca) (blue)

Gladiolus carinatus (yellow and blue colour), G. caryophyllaceus (pink), both on sandstone slopes; G. rougex (hybrid between G. cardinalis and G. carmineus by J Loubser Snr)

Veltheimia bracteata (lemon flame)

Scadoxus puniceus

Gladiolus splendens - From the Rooival rd in the Roggeveld escarpment

Babiana thunbergii (curious red flowers from Lambert’s Bay, similar to B. ringens)

Sparaxis metelerkampiae from Citrusdal; S. grandiflora subsp grandiflora, also subsp. acutiloba

Ferraria uncinata (tepals curl up at end); Ferraria crispa; F. ferrariola; F. divaricata

Babiana stricta; B. geniculata (tube bent at the top)

Cyrtanthus breviflorus

Watsonia pillansii; W. aletroides; W. laccata

Dierama pendulum (I presume, as it is winter-growing)

Babiana villosa and Geissorhiza inflexa (both red, grow together on clay slopes, near Tulbagh, share same pollinator)

Moraea miniata – Middelpos, renosterveld; M .elegans

Ixia marginifolia; I. latifolia (Touws River)

Freesia refracta; F. alba; F. leichtlinii from Cape Agulhas; F. grandiflora

Sparaxis elegans

Lachenalia pallida; L. stayneri (from Worcester); L. elegans var elegans

Babiana framesii

Lachenalia violacea; L. mutabilis; L. unicolor- long exerted stamens; L. gillettii; L. bachmannii

Moraea vegeta (Darling to Caledon); M. luteoalba; M. tricolor

Moraea villosa (deep colour); M. aristata

Albuca sp -upright flower; also species with pendulous flowers.

Geissorhiza radians

Babiana pygmaea

Gladiolus watsonius, G. tristis (fragrant in evening)

Massonia sp.

Babiana ambigua

Onixotis stricta

The fleshy Ferraria crispa reminded one of the seaside, with a profusion of curious mottled brown flowers. Similarly, Cyanella orchidiformis flowered in tall racemes massed together. Elsewhere Gladiolus orchidiflorus, (having a matching name) also grew in many flowered spikes. The flowers are insignificantly coloured but turn violet at night and are moth pollinated.

Perhaps the highlight of all this profusion, was seeing the purple Moraea loubseri, extinct in the wild in Langebaan, blooming happily. Then there were the rarities Babiana pygmaea, Gladiolus virescens and G. pulcherrimus.

Included amongst the other Cape flora were Erica species and also Streptocarpus kentaniensis.

We wish Allan every success in his enterprise. His hard work has shown itself in this display which we were able to appreciate.

Many thanks to Margaret Fox for editing and photos.

Cyanella orchidiformis Moraea loubseri Moraea tricolor

Thank you to all those who braved the cold wind to join us – we trust it was well worth it!


Should you want to visit the Eastern Cape, here is an introduction to the plants to be seen

Lowestoffe Wild Flowers Cameron McMaster

The farms of the Lowestoffe farming enterprise are situated in the rain shadow area of the Elandsberg north-east of Hogsback in the Eastern Cape. They are bounded by the perennial Klipplaat River in the east, extending to the high basin encompassed within the Elandsberg range that is drained by a stream that plunges over a high waterfall into a spectacular gorge on the farm Woodhouselea. The elements that give rise to the wide diversity of habitats and vegetation types are primarily the geology (soils), altitude and aspect (north or south facing slopes), which influence the temperature gradients at different times of the year, and climate (primarily rainfall).

The altitude of the farms varies from 1300m at the Klipplaat River on the north-eastern boundary of the farm to just under 2000m at the highest point of the Elandsberg. Winter is characterised by sunny days and cold nights with frost being a regular occurrence, especially in the valleys on calm clear nights. Snowfalls can be expected in winter with the occasional cold front moving across the country from west to east. Rainfall is mainly in summer in the form of occasional frontal rains with drizzle and mist as well as periodic thunderstorms.

The wild flowers mentioned in this article are but a very small representative sample of the vast number of species that do occur on Lowestoffe and surrounding farms.

The Grassland:

The rolling open grassland has many more species of flowering plants and shrubs than one would expect. Bulbous plants and orchids can be found here as well as the members of the Daisy family (Asteraceae) and the Pea family (Fabaceae) which are particularly common. Starting in early spring, a pale yellow iris-like flower is common along the roadsides on the lower reaches of the farm. This is Moraea pallida (referred to as “tulp” in Afrikaans). Later in the summer two smaller iris-like species begin to flower – Moraea elliotti which is blue and Moraea brevistyla which is off-white. Tritonia gladiolaris, with a straw coloured flower, is very common from October onwards when it is also time to look out for the pale blue-white Gladiolus wilsonii. Look out for the taller and more distinct Gladiolus longicollis that flowers in grassland in October and November. The spectacular salmon-pink Gladiolus mortonius is less common and flowers in late summer. Many species of the yellow stars (Hypoxis species) can be seen throughout the early part of the summer. However the large pink Brunsvigias (Candelabra lilies) are the most spectacular. There are two species that occur in the region. Brunsvigia radulosa flowers (before its leaves appear) in January in the drier lower parts of the farms; its large leaves lie flat on the ground. In February the very large Brunsvigia grandiflora comes into flower and can be seen along the road on the Cathcart side of Rockford bridge. It is distinguished from the former species by its upright leaves. Red and pink Watsonias make a great show in many of the rocky outcrops in November and December. There are two species of Poker that are fairly common – the small and dainty Kniphofia triangularis and the larger and more robust Kniphofia uvaria. Look out for the many species of small pink and red pea flowers in the grassland. These are various species of Indigofera. Various Helichrysum species (everlastings) are prominent members of the Daisy family that are mostly white and yellow and are widespread in grassland.

One of the most important discoveries in recently in this area was the rare Green Bearded Disa (Disa lugens). Extremely rare elsewhere, this large orchid with its strange long bearded lip, is fairly common on Woodhouselea where it flowers from mid December. It has attracted a large number of botanist and plant lovers who have come long distances to view it. However, a highlight is the very showy Blood Lily or Orange Paintbrush (Scadoxus puniceus), that makes Lowestoffe and Rockford its special habitat. There are large colonies of these beautiful bulbous plants growing on rocky outcrops in different places in the grassland and on mountain slopes. They flower in November and are followed by clusters of scarlet berries which can outclass the flowers in beauty. Like most of the bulbous plants they are deciduous, and dormant in winter.

The Klipplaat River banks

The banks up and down the Klipplaat and tributaries, are a special habitat where some lovely stream-side flowers can be viewed. The river on both sides of Rockford bridge is an excellent place to see them. A large yellow iris-like plant (Moraea huttonii) grows in clumps on the banks and rocky islands in the river and flowers in spring. The Scarlet River Lily (Hesperantha coccinea) occupies exactly the same niche but flowers in February. Other lovely bulbous plants that occur in the damp soil along the river banks near the Rockford bridge include the large hairbell (Dierama pulcherrimum) and a Pineapple Lily (Eucomis comosa), both of which flower in mid-summer, and lovely patches of Nerine angustifolia which flower in March.


Middelpos 2010

Owing to the very low rainfall experienced by these more northerly parts of the Cape, there was a dearth of the usual spring floral flowering. However there were bulbous plants to be seen.

A report was sent in by Fanie Avenant. If you travelled to any of the Flower regions this spring, do let us have a report.

Trip to Middelpos, August 2010 by Fanie Avenant

We came across Gladiolus uysiae on the escarpment above the Gannaga Pass and saw some Romulea spp on the Rooiwal Road and Gladiolus venustus. You will notice how dry the veld is between Calvinia and Middelpos. The pass was beautiful with the newly built stonework view points, described in detail in the latest Veld & Flora. (The pictures are attached)

Please send in your email addresses to receive pictures in colour

Gladiolus tristis in a sheep nutrient tub sent by Fanie Avenant



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