There are always flowers when you look. Peter Warren joined the regular walk in the hills of Mpophomeni last week and found lots. He submitted this article and photos.
Penz Malinga was our guide. She arrived just after having to deal with a pollution crisis – those from the privileged part of society do not understand how this is an everyday problem to the residents. Penz rises above the emotional drain this places upon her and cheerfully leads us through the village explaining the history and the tent town that preceded it. As we crossed the polluted flood plain she told us of the education she does with the youth about nature. Not much in the way of flowers on this plain however.
But when we got up onto the hills and the bolder fields we saw about twenty species even this early in the spring, and even after so little rain. Why the bolder fields? That is where the bulbs and underground plants have escaped agriculture. KZN grassland flowers re-sprout rather than reseed and many of them are very old. I learned this when at the CREW outing in Eshowe – fun homework seeing the theory in action.
The first lesson was the very pretty Cat’s Whiskers (Ocimum obovatum was Becium obovatum).
Now what is unusual about this observation is the woody root stock can be seen, the bit that is normally underground to escape the fires. These kind of roots are said to be very old which why when dug up (or ploughed) are essentially gone forever.
Another insignificant Ledeboura? Not at all. This one has beautiful markings and quite narrow leaves. However as far as I can ascertain it is the same L. ovatifolia as the unmarked examples I have photographed at Yarrow Falls and elsewhere. Perhaps the final chapter of the taxonomy of this plant has still to be written.
The veld violet (Ruellia cordata) is the species I found Penz examining in more detail. Perhaps that is because it is traditionally used as a love charm. Nothing could be more romantic, and perhaps I should plant them instead of petunias.
Another gem was the lovely Pink Ground-bells (Graderia scabra), Dargle flower of the year. Also a resprouter where new leaves and flowers come up every year from the root stock that has been hiding underground.
And there was lots more but then you will have to go there and find them yourself (or try my detailed observations on iSpot –http://www.ispot.org.za/search/node/mpophomeni). However spring has not sprung until I have seen our very own Natal Primrose (Thunbergia atriplicifolia).
Happy Midlanding – it is special – especially in Spring.
A guided walk in the Mpophomeni wetland and hills takes place on the second Tuesday of every month. Book with Penz Malinga 073 9483209