The West Coast Spotters Guide
Photos supplied by Con Meyer, Darling Wildflower society, Hilton Gillman (Arum Lily) and Alan Rees (Chinkerinchee)
The annual spring flower spectacular draws thousands of enthusiasts to the region. Here are some of the vast variety of flowers to see…
Arum Lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica)
Also known as “aronskelk”, “varkblom”, “varkoor”, they flower after the rains all along the roadside in sunny areas where the ground is moist or water collects, and in marshy conditions.
Apparently, the tubers are a favourite food for porcupines!
The cut flowers last long in water, but please get them from a florist, do not pick them from the roadside
This beautiful cluster of flowers in a sharp conical shape blooms late October and November in sunny areas and favours Renosterveld.
Like the arum lily, it is also found where the ground is moist or water collects, and in marshy conditions.
Like most wildflowers they are under threat, so please do not pick them in the veld.
African Daisy (Arctotis breviscapa)
Commonly known as the “sandveld gousblom”, this bright flower loves andy soil. It belongs to a genus of about 40-50 species.
It grows abundantly along the West Coast and the adjacent interior.
Together with the rain daisy (opposite page) these species dominate the landscape during the annual flower season along the West Coast and Namaqualand.
Rat’s Tail (Babiana ringens)
This plant is found in sandy soil on the sandy flats of the western Cape and flowers from July until September, especially after veldfires.
The plant has a main stalk that acts as a handy perch for birds, such as the malachite sunbird, to get to the sweet nectar and help with the pollination.
The Afrikaans name is “rotstert”.
Spinnekopblom (Ferraria crispa)
Also knows as “Uiltjie”, this plant is widespread, mostly along the coast, and found on sandstone or granite rocks. It favours sandy soil and almost resembles a starfish. The flower emits a rather smelly, carrion-scented odour that attracts insects for pollination, and the flowers last only for one day. It has fat, overlapping leaves.
Originating in South Africa, this plant is also known overseas as “Black Flag” and “Sea Spider Iris”.
Rain Daisy (Dimorphotheca pluvialis)
This is one of the first spring annuals to flower (July – October). It goes by many names, such as “sandveldsneeu”, “reenblommetjie” and “Ox-eye daisy”, but is mainly known as “Weather Prophet”. The flower only opens in sunshine , follows the sun all day, and closes in its absence.
It produces 2 forms of seed: a flat, papery one from the centre of the flower that flies away in the wind, and a!hornlike one from the outer ray of the centre, that has a delayed germination, protecting the plant from unpredictable conditions in its harsh environment.