Eastern Cape Mountain Flowers
Contrary to the many myths and legends surrounding a trip to the Highlands, a visit need not consist of fly fishing only. Amongst the many other attractions is the floral wealth that has remained largely undiscovered by South Africans. Groups of foreign visitors come here solely to experience our floral diversity. Unlike the “big hit” seen in Namaqualand in spring, the floral splendor here continues in succession throughout the summer.
The bright orange indigenous poppy, Papaver aculeatum is widespread. The Berkheya species with their largely white, yellow, or mauve daisy-like flowers and spiky thistle-like foliage are generally found in the road reserve and on disturbed ground.
Helichrysum species are numerous but relatively easy to recognize, often having grey leaves and long-lasting flowers. They are in fact called “everlastings” or “sewejaartjies”. Helichrysum splendidum lines the roadways from late spring to winter. These grey leaved plants grow to knee height and are covered with yellow flowers. There are Helichrysums that carry their yellow composite flowers through winter to drop their seeds in spring.
Eastern Cape Indigenous Plants
And The Sorounding Area
There are many different species of “red hot pokers”. The early flowering Kniphofia northiae is impressive because of the size of the flower head. Fields of K. caulescens can be seen later up near Tiffindell. Another more solitary species flower at overlapping times thus sustaining the Malachite sunbirds who in turn offer pollination services. At the height of summer “Harebells”- Dierama species, abound.
These grass-like plants carry their pink flowers suspended from the tips of long stalks and will be seen gently waving in the breeze. Species identification can be difficult as colors can range from white through pink to mauve and height can vary quite considerably. The Harebells are also aptly referred to as “Angel’s fishing rods”.
Elsa Pooley’s publication “Mountain Flowers”
Brendan Cole’s publication “Wild Flowers of Rhodes Village & Neighbouring Valleys in the Eastern Cape Drakensberg”
Plant list compiled by Brendan Cole