We have had a wonderful spring for flowering annuals and bulbs in the Overberg this year. I think it is a combination of good rains in June and the fact that we are now five years since the last fire and the veld, while maturing, is still providing sufficient open spaces for the small guys. I took a walk on Monday over Witkrans, Flower Valley and Grootbos and came across some beautiful spring bulbs in full bloom. Take a look below at just a small selection of what is flowering at the moment……..
Moraea papilionacea is a low (to 15 mm), spring flowering Moraea with sweetly scented flowers that are salmon pink or pale yellow, with yellow nectar guides on the outer tepals outlined in yellow, green or red. It grows from the Cederberg Mountains to Bredasdorp on a variety of soils.
This Gladiolus carneus was a complete surprise to me when I found it flowering in a damp area above our dam on Witkrans. I have walked this area many times before in spring and never seen this plant. Its common name is the painted lady or white Afrikaner and it can usually be recognised by its large, funnel-shaped pale pink or white flowers, often with dark linear to spear-shaped markings on the lower tepals. It grows to 60 cm and occurs on sandstone slopes, often in damp sites from the Cape Peninsula to Outeniqua Mountains.
The little painted lady, Gladiolus debilis is superficially similar to Gladiolus carneus. It is however much shorter (to 45 cm). Its lower tepals are characterised by their distinctive red markings including chevrons, diamonds or streaks and lines in very regular patterns. The base of the throat is also marked with a circle of red. It grows on sandstone slopes from Bainskloof to the Cape Peninsula and Bredasdorp.
Aother similar, and equally beautiful spring flowering Gladiolus of the Overberg is Gladiolus variegatus. This species also has white flowers with the lower tepals having irregular red spots. However this species is easily distinguished from the two above by its localised distribution on limestone outcrops in the region between Grootbos and Cape Agulhas. Unfortunately its habitat is threatened by alien vegetation and coastal housing development. As a result it is categorised as a vulnerable species according to the latest Red Data list of south African plants.
Another rare endemic of the limestone outcrops along the south coast is this Gladiolus miniatus. It has unmistakeable salmon-orange flowers, usually with darker colouring in the midlines. The flowers produce copius amounts of nectar and it is thought to be pollinated by sunbirds. This species grows between Hawston and Riversdale, usually near the shore in sight of the ocean.