Inkspot and spider orchids on October hikes
by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa
Our first home was here, in the red circle. High up on the edge of Camps Bay. Once we had fire blazing on three sides, above, below and beyond in all the wild green areas. Such huge flames that we could have read in the garden 'by firelight'!
When we lived there, we would walk along the Pipe Track. Those paths and jeep tracks (for the fire fighters) which you see winding above the houses. Would never have imagined that all these decades older he would hike up Kasteelspoort to the very top of the mountains. Which were my guardian angels for most of my life.
Or that the very next day the Twelve Apostles fire would rage!
We walked at Brakkloofrand and found the inkspot orchid Disa cornuta.
Protea scolymocephala bushes covered in masses of Goldilocks perfect sized flowers (on my wish list but the plants are short lived). Leucadendron coniferum the female cone blushed with red and silver shimmer. Serruria glomerata ivory touched with gold. Yellow Moraea. Sebaea exacoides yellow petals with paired tangerine dashes. Fine leaves and burgundy veined white flowers of Pelargonium myrrifolium. Among the khaki and gold fynbos blaze shrubs of Pelargonium betulinum melding pinks and purples. Fibonacci spirals on the buds and flowers of Pseudosalago spuria (a scroph). Knowltonia vesicatoria with silvery green flowers and trifoliate toothed leaves - a bizarre plant among our fynbos, till I realise ranunculus / buttercup family. Silver fingers of Syncarpha gnaphaloides (Greek for formed like a hank of wool!) with underwhelming brownish flowers. Shell pink hibiscus family Anisodontea scabrosa. Azure stars of Geissorhiza aspera. The colour of an African sky Salvia africana-caerulea. Fountain bush Psoralea pinnata grows along flows to the stream, indicating water. Hovering just above the ground a blue Moraea setifolia.
He found Ferraria crispa when hiking Suther Peak.
Looking down to Llandudno, with Camps Bay and Lion's Head in the distance.
Our botanical ramble on Blackhill in search of the spider orchid Bartholina burmanniana was successful. I was soaked (need a hiking in the rain plastic suit), squelch squelch in my boots. Even got rain IN my camera - had to leave all its little doors open that evening with the fire going.
Pink spikes of Satyrium carneum. Gentle pink and white of Podalyria. Gladiolus carneus burgundy spotted pink petals weeping in the steady rain. Gerbera linnaei the usual white daisies but with feathered leaves. Huge yellow daisies of Berkheya armata with fierce leaves were our only sun that day. Kniphofia uvaria also along the seep. Caterpillar fur spiked with rain. Yellow white and red emperor caterpillar. Blue veins on white mystery flower. Serruria cyanoides hints at pink. Low blue Aristea africana and tall white Aristea spiralis. Tall yellow Bobartia indica looks like a clump of reeds when not flowering.
Returning to hike up to Spring Buttress via Woody Ravine. The Twelve Apostles Hotel stand alone on that coast between Camps Bay and Llandudno and fire started on their grounds. Blazed up the mountain and along to reach down towards Hout Bay and across the top towards Kirstenbosch.
Thanks to our firefighters (and the Volunteer Wildfire Services founded in the devastating 2000 fires) for protecting homes and people in fierce wind! Drone flight over the Cape Point nursery, two islands of green after the 7-9 November fire.
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