In the last week I was fortunate enough to spend time in the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve as well as in the foothills of the Tsitsikamma range at Milwood, north of Knysna. I was quite confused by this large flowered Erica coriifolia flowering profusely in the Kogelberg.
It is difficult enough to identify the different species amongst the many pink erica’s in the fynbos and then you still get such variability within a species! This beautiful pink-flowered erica grows over a wide range of conditions from high in the mountains to low sandy flats and covers an area from Ceres in the north, including the Hex River Mountains to the Cape Peninsula and eastwards to the Riviersonderend and Langeberg ranges from Robertson to Riversdale as well as the mountains around Bredasdorp. I am used to seeing it at this time of the year flowering in the mountains on Grootbos Nature Reserve and in the Walker Bay region, where it has much smaller, more compact flowers as shown below. Erica coriifolia is distinguished by its urn-shaped corolla that turns brown soon after opening.
While mountain biking near Milwood today I came across another pink Erica. Erica canaliculata is a large ‘bush erica’ that grows on forest edges and in gullies and kloofs between George and Port Elizabeth. It is a very striking plants that is covered in flowers between November and April and can reach 5 m!
The very long, protruding styles help to distinguish this species.