Tag Archives: Aristea

Windy Mountain

Spring is turning into summer on the mountain and the wind is howling at night and most of the day.  There is an afternoon lull but already, at 7 o’clock in the evening, I can hear it picking up outside the office and later it will whip around the house and rattle the roof.

I spent the weekend in George, along the famous Garden Route at a Horse Trials, the Western Province Championships.  We had fun, didn’t win any big prizes, but spent the weekend with our friends and got to gallop fast over solid fences which is the most fun you can have on a horse.

On Friday morning I went for a run in the suburbs of George and enjoyed sightings of fynbos flowers that have adapted to the urban environment.  Here on the farm I know only of one place where the Gladiolus maculatus blooms and that’s in July.  Looking at the book I see they are winter flowering but I saw them, or something very similar, in a spot of suburban wasteland as I ran past.  Perhaps I should have taken a closer look.

When I don’t take them running often enough the dogs get bored and take themselves off for their own runs.  Sometimes they are gone for hours and we get increasingly worried about them until they come home, panting and joyful, terribly pleased with themselves and usually soaking wet as they’ve stopped for a cooldown in the dam on the way back to the house.  Several dogs have disappeared on the mountain that we know of and we worry and worry when they are gone, we go looking for them and calling them for hours and never see a sign.  Last time I checked there was no tracker available that would work here in South Africa but recently I heard of one, so I searched again and found it in Germany.  It arrived today and has now been attached to Maebh.  She and Jemima Chew often go for a quick hunt in the evening, and sometimes Maebh and Seamus go off together, but for some reason, never the three together.  If Maebh has a tracker, we’ll know where to find them.

I know better than to think I will get any photos in this wild wind, but I’ll see what’s there and where to go when the wind drops.  They say in Cape Town that if you don’t like the weather today, don’t worry because it will be different tomorrow and the change in weather is heralded by the wind dropping to that incredible stillness on the mountain that I’ve so often written about.  When that happens we will pick a moment of good light to catch the latest spring flowers. In the meantime there is much to catch up on.  Last year I failed to name this blue flower so I posted it on ispot.  The experts suggest it might be Aspalathus cephalotes subspecies obscuriflora.

Another pretty thing I couldn’t identify is this white “flower” which is tiny and turns out to be the seedhead of Ursinia anthemoides which I photographed in August but hadn’t posted, much more interesting to post the two together now.

I love these fluffy heads that must be Stilbe, I think vestita.

The other fluffy flowers that I photographed some time ago and never posted are the wild buchu plants that grow on the farm.  Our crop is buchu, Agathomsa crenulata and hybrids thereof, and Agathomsa betulina.  These are used medicinally and in the food flavouring and perfume industries because of the powerful essential oils that have an intense note of blackcurrant.  I occassionally post photos of the buchu we farm which is indigenous to the area.  This is a genuinely wild buchu, probably either Agathomsa imbricata or capensis.

As I was running down one of the roads I noticed that it was bordered by shrubs of Salvia africana all in flower and would make a wonderful photo.  Being in a hurry I put it off only to find when I returned that a spring wind had blown the flowers to shreds.  They are tough and they flower all year but the best display is in a wet spring.  They are stalwart friends on the mountain with an exceptional colour and fortunately enough remained for me to capture some of the flowers.

Summer is Helichrysum season and it begins with this Helichrysum patulum.  We have several subspecies of this wonderful and resilient plant on the farm and they deserve a page of their own.

Helichrysum patulum

Helichrysum patulum

Along the drive the Crassula fascicularis has come into flower.

Crassula fascicularis

Crassula fascicularis

Finally, one of my top favourite flowers has emerged, the lovely spikes of Aristea capitata, unmistakable and one of the first flowers I identified when we bought the farm and I started running here.  These are prolific in damp areas and I hope they will be spectacular this year after the wet winter.  We’ll have more photos of them over the next month.

Bulbs and a Couple of Peas and an Irish Wolfhound or two

What a busy week it has been. I must apologise to friends who prefer the chatty blog to the technical botanical blog.  At this time of year there is so much to share, so we have a botanical phase for now and more chat will inevitatably follow.

Although I have been wanting to post a collection of flowering bulbs for some time there was a small problem with identifying one or two.  The best way to get help is to post on ispot, where the South African flora and fauna geeks all post their sighting and help one another out with identification.  Sure enough, within a couple of days I’ve had some help and can now happily identify a paricularly pretty apricot flower as yet another Moraea, this time miniata.

The other one is our most common gladiolus, which the experts identify as the famous and common Painted Lady, Gladiolus carneus, known as the White Afrikaner.  This must be right yet it is also frustrating as the books insist on the red splash on the lower petals while mine splash yellow.  Everything else fits though and they are just coming into flower now so I’ll be on a determined hunt for red splashes and I’m sure over the next few weeks I’ll post a few more photos of this really stunning Gladiolus.

Running last week was great from a running point of view as the weather was dry and windy and I have learned that taking pictures of flowers is best left for days with little or no wind.  The dogs loved the faster pace and once again we had a photogenic moment when Seamus and Maebh stopped at Fox Pan for a drink as we ran up the dry side of our farm.

image

There is such an abundance of flowers this year and every step of the run means another group or another flower.  There are shrubs I haven’t stopped to photograph because I think, they’ll still be there in a couple of weeks.  Flowering bulbs are different, they have a short life and you only get a few days to capture them.  I know I don’t see them all, for example last year I completely missed this dramatic Moraea bellendenii and this lovely Aristea spiralis which both flower at the same time, when I was away.

Other bulbs that flower at this time of year include Geissorhiza aspera, which opens when the sun shines and covers the lands in blue stars.  And yet another Aristea, the pretty Aristea africana, which is often used in gardens.   The pink Wurmbea punctata is much less common and easy to miss, it’s snuggled up to several shrubs along a busy road and there are very few of them.  The Baeometra uniflora which is not very prettily known as the Beetle Lily, it is choosy about where it lives and grows prolifically in one specific spot.

There are a couple more I don’t have names for, I’ll see if the geeks can help.  This first one is tiny – the flowers are less than half the size of the nail on my little finger.  I really should be able to name the second one, but there are quite a few flowers that look like this, so I’m not sure.  And the third one is the most exquisite little thing – also tiny.

Finally, two distinctive peas.  One is simply known as the Blue Pea, Psoralea aphylla, found in marshy places and along streams, which is exactly where we saw it. image The other is prolific at the moment along the top road and very distinctive; I’m pretty sure it is Lotononis of which there are 40 odd fynbos varieties and only two are covered in my book.  It isn’t either of those but the tri-foliate leaves and solitary flowers on slender stems are a bit of a giveaway.

Catching up and naming the flowers

Metalsia - unidentified subspecies

Metalsia – unidentified subspecies

Real life took over blogging life for a few days and we now have a backlog of flowers to document.  The first few are the ones I last posted without doing the research to identify them.  Here there are at last, first, above, is the Metalsia, though I am not certain of the subspecies.  This is common all over the farm and a delight to see as it has a long flowering season.

This lovely blue flowering bulb has popped up in lots of damp places.   It turns out to be Aristea africana, a close relation of Aristea capitata which was recently our Flower of the Day.

Aristea africana

Aristea africana

Polygala is a common fynbos flower and this one is either refracta or bracteolata or indeed one of the 30 other fynbos subspecies.

Polygala refracta or bracteolata

Polygala refracta or bracteolata

In a previous blog I incorrectly identified this as an aloe.  Its not of course, it is a red hot poker,  the Latin name is Kniphofia uvairia and it is a common and much loved wild flower in these mountains, though this is the first one I have seen on this farm.

Kniphofia uvaria

Kniphofia uvaria

Finally what a delight to see that this little yellow flower, distinctive because of its four petals, is Sebea aurea, a relation of Sebea exacoides which we posted quite recently.

 

Sebea aurea

Sebea aurea