Driving along the tar road between the villages of Stanford and Gansbaai at this time of the year I am always astounded by the sudden appearance of large splashes of pink on the hill slopes. The source of this amazing floral display is the pink flowered Gansbaai erica, Erica irregularis. This beautiful erica is only found on the deep sandy soils on the slopes overlooking Walker Bay in an area of not more than about 300 hectares.
It is en erect shrub that grows up to 1.5m tall with upright branches covered with pink, rounded flowers that are constricted at the mouth and are borne on long woolly stalks. The stalks are arranged in a somewhat irregular fashion, hence the latin name ‘irregularis’. It is a local endemic that has a red data book status of endangered owing to its localised distribution and threat from wild flower harvesting and alien vegetation. Fortunately most of its population is now safeguarded in the private Grootbos Nature Reserve where all alien vegetation has been removed and no flower picking is permitted.