Tag Archives: Ursinia

Magnificent Proteas, more water and some new finds

There is a lot to share so today’s blog is all flowers and less about the run.
Up until now I’ve been going by the flowering dates shown in my reference book but I’m now not so sure.  I know from the records I’ve kept over the years that the different weather can mean flowering even in the garden here can vary by a month or six weeks from year to year, so why not the fynbos.
Stachys aethiopica, for instance, is supposed to flower in August and September, in the early spring.  But we saw one in May and there are small groups of them in different areas at the moment.  They are unmistakeable with their flower reminiscent of a pelargonium and distinctive mint-like leaves.  Indeed they are a member of lamiaceae, the mint family
Stachys aethiopica

Stachys aethiopica

The red gladiolus has cropped up in a few places.  There was one by the road when I left in early May that was easily photographed.  The latest two are high on the bank above the drive, but worth sharing even if the photo isn’t great.  The nearest possibility is gladiolus priorii, though in that case the flowers should be dull red and these are a vibrant scarlet.  It should also have a distinctive and easily visible yellow throat and I can see no evidence of that in our flower. I will look again as the size, shape and flowering season fit.  I need to look a little closer if one appears in a more accessible area.  If not, we’ll have to wait until next year to be sure.
Gladiolus - unamed

Gladiolus – unamed

The dogs and I had a wonderful run today and we visited the weir to see how much water is flowing.  This is always a lovely place; the whitish trunks of the Ilex Mitis or Cape Holly, are magnificent and the permanent water flow makes it a favourite of the dogs.
An ancient Ilex Mitis with its feet in a permanent stream

An ancient Ilex Mitis with its feet in a permanent stream

Jemima Chew enjoying the water in the weir

Jemima Chew enjoying the water in the weir

While I’ve been away the magnificent protea trees have come into flower.  They are tall and have spikey white flowers and silver leaves.  I believe they are Protea nitida.
Protea - probably nitida

Protea – probably nitida

Near them stands this delicate pink protea.  It is probably a nerifolia, though the flowers are barely bearded and a paler pink than most of the nerifolio on this farm.
Protea nerifolia - a very pale pink specimen

Protea nerifolia – a very pale pink specimen

Flowers found in the forest that abutts the farm are included in our blogs as they are on our regular running route.  We’ve seen Ursinia paelacea before and there is lots of it along the forest roads.
Urisinia palaecea

Urisinia palaecea

Not everything is easily identified. This little clump of yellow daisy-like flowers is lovely and quite distinctive but I can find no record of them. Suggestions welcome.

A mystery flower - yellow daisy-like flowers are the hardest to identify

A mystery flower – yellow daisy-like flowers are the hardest to identify

 

As we ran into the forest the path is lined with Leucadendron salignum.  There are hundreds of these all over the farm.  At this time of year they glow in the dark, another plant that seems to absorb the sunlight and render it back to us on the darker days.  Today was bright and they gleam in the early winter sun.

 

 

Leudadendron gleaming in the winter sunlight

Leudadendron gleaming in the winter sunlight

The Guernsey Lily and other stories –

Writing this blog involves a lot of leafing through books trying to identify the flowers.  My favourite and the best that I’ve found so far is called Field Guide to Fynbos by John Manning.  It seems remarkably comprehensive, very detailed and I’m very grateful for it.

One thing I have learned is that small, daisy like purple and yellow flowers are quite hard to identify with pinpoint accuracy.  The devil, as always, is in the detail.  One has to note leaves, shape, colour, and plenty of tiny details involving the language of the botanist.  The purpose of this blog is not to bore a reader with the science; at the same time reasonably accurate identification of the plants means I must learn something of it myself.  As time goes on I should get better at it.
This has been a busy week and included some travel which means I’ve been out on the farm less than I like.  Luckily here were a few flowers I found last Sunday that I hadn’t taken the time to identify and it’s a rainy Sunday today, the mountain unphotogenically covered in dense cloud, so it’s a good day to spend leafing through the reference books.
This stunning purple daisy-like flower looks like a Felicia, of which we have lots on the farm, though they are not quite in flower yet.  Closer study reveals a white circle at the base of the petals which, combined with the shape of the petals (I really must take care not to become too much of a geek about this) makes me think it must be a subspecies of Senecio.  It looks quite like Senecio Sophioides which is not due to flower until July but it could be a close relation.  There are 80 fynbos subspecies of Senecio and not all are in the book.
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I am a little more confident with the next identification despite the fact that the yellow daisy-like flower is the commonest of all, seen on lots of different shrubs.  Still, this one is quite distinct so I’m going to identify it as Ursinia.  Again it’s not flowering at quite the same time of year as the sub-species in the books, but it is quite distinctive for a yellow daisy-ish thing.
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The day after I saw the Brown Afrikaner I saw another gorgeous bulb.  When it comes to bulbs there are two exceptionally prolific areas (that I’ve identified) on the farm and luckily one of them is the bank along the drive.  Running down the drive the other morning I caught a flash of red and stopped to see this; high on the bank above us.  It’s a south facing bank which doesn’t get much sunlight at this time of year.  I stopped several times as I drove up and down the drive and managed to catch one shot late in the day with the sun behind it.   I’ll go and have a look this week if the weather improves but I don’t know if I’ll find more of these so although the photo isn’t great, I decided to publish it in any case. I couldn’t get close enough to identify it with pinpoint accuracy – I can’t believe I’m going to have to bring field glasses with me to identify flowers. I’m pretty sure it’s a Nerine though. It is a lovely thing.

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Nerine Sarniensis or Guernsey Lily
 

There is a multitude of shrubs on the farm with shapes that are unique and rather strange; not familiar to anyone who grew up in the herbaceous gardens of Europe, even those filled with exotic flora.  A feature of these, and we’ll have lots of examples over the coming months, is that the leaves grow close to the stem, all the way up a long stalk, with the flower heads clustered at the top.  One of these is Metalasia Densa, coming into flower now, – a prolific flowering which will last for the next six months.  There are hundreds, if not thousands, of these shrubs on the farm.

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