A short distance from my home up the mountain can be found this wonderful eye-catching colour of endemic plants growing wild, surviving sandy soils and harsh wind and full sun.
Pelargonium cucullatum – Wild Malva
Carpets of Mesembranthemum
The Wild Malva (Pelargonium cucullatum) is growing profusely. When crushed the leaves of some forms emit a strong, sweet scent. The flowers are faintly scented. Sunbirds, butterflies, long-beaked flies and moths have all been observed visiting the flowers.
Traditionally this pelargonium was used medicinally to cure colic, kidney ailments, diarrhoea, coughs and fevers. The leaves were used as a poultice for bruises, stings and abscesses. In the nineteenth century it was used as a hedge-row ornamental in Cape Town. It is also useful as a cut flower as the branches last for many weeks in water.
Vygies – Mesembryanthemum (meaning “midday flowering”) is a genus of flowering plants native to southern Africa. Thriving in hot conditions, Mesembryanthemum creates a ‘Magic Carpet’ and simply loves poor, dry soils where most other plants would fail.
Brass Buttons (Cotula). Annual herb growing up to 30 cm high, with finely divided leaves, with white or yellow rays and a yellow disc. Native to South Africa (Western Cape and Eastern Cape) where it is found in sandy and disturbed places.
Watsonia borbonica is magnificent will tall spikes of “Pink” flowers. Watsonia borbonica is pollinated by large, solitary bees, mainly of the family Apidae: subfamily Anthophorinae. The bees visit the flowers in the early morning, seeking nectar and collecting pollen from flowers that have just opened. The styles of the flowers only unfurl later on their second day and become receptive, and at the same time the nectar levels rise. The bees visiting for the nectar transfer some of the pollen collected earlier from the freshly opened flowers. By noon there is no more nectar or pollen and the bees move away. Goldlatt 1989 and John Manning (pers.comm)