January hikes to Elsie's Peak, Jonkersdam Trail and Rooihoogte at Cape Point


by Diana Studer

- gardening for biodiversity

 in Cape Town, South Africa


Hiking among wildflowers

in the mountains

around Cape Town


Staying close to home we began January at Elsie's Peak. Low growing in a deep vivid blue Agapanthus africanus. This species is adapted to mid-summer in our mediterranean climate, unlike the commonorgarden praecox that wants water.


Agapanthus africanus Elsie's Peak January
Agapanthus africanus
Elsie's Peak January

Our first weird daisy, with only one petal per flower Disparago ericoides. Familiar pink and blue Lachnaea grandiflora and Roella. Metalasia divergens has twisted leaves showing the velvety lower surface. On the former dunes Phylica ericoides. You can imagine how confusing all these 'looks like Erica' species are, when we only have leaves and not flowers (or fruit) to help with naming.


January flowers on Elsie's Peak
January flowers on Elsie's Peak

To the other end of our valley and Jonkersdam Trail lingering among low vegetation on an older jeep track. Two women on horseback looked at me incredulously when I said - go past, we are looking at flowers. What? Here?!


Jonkersdam old jeep track
Jonkersdam old jeep track

Target was Gladiolus jonquilodorus. We had to hunt for the few surviving plants, but fresh buds were hopeful. Last month's Bobartia indica flowers are now fruit.


Gladiolus jonquillodorus Jonkersdam January
Gladiolus jonquilodorus
Jonkersdam January

Fried egg yellow and white. Rafnia triflora, see the pod, have to concentrate to count three flowers. Felicia tenella, usual flowers but weird narrow leaves, with bristles. Chironia baccifera in white, not pink. Helichrysum niveum would need to be very fresh to sparkle like snow.


Yellow and white flowers Jonkersdam in January
Yellow and white flowers
Jonkersdam in January

Blue Aristea glauca, blooms later and has papery bracts. Baboon spider would like to be left in peace. The second weird daisy looks like a bulb with long broad leaves and a head of pink flowers Corymbium glabrum.


Jonkersdam January Aristea
Jonkersdam January

Bottom right is where we circle to see what has emerged after fire.


Jonkersdam Trail Bottom right after fire corner
Jonkersdam Trail
Bottom right after fire corner

For Rooihoogte at Cape Point I was sidetracked by eroded sandstone rocks as we climbed the slope. Baboon memories of Kataza exiled up North to Limpopo. Then duck, jaws and tripod.


Rooihoogte Cape Point Eroded sandstone
Rooihoogte Cape Point
Eroded sandstone

Not red but pinkly pretty. The third weird daisy is our target, pink and white marshmallows with yellow sprinkles Stoebe rosea. Growing below the path, I picked one flower for our identifier. Those white bracts with tiny dark tips (Brunia not daisy family) are still fresh in my vase today. Tiny pink tipped white flowers in the centre are long since faded Staavia dodii. We stopped at the marshy bit on the drive home for Erica laeta. And I can never resist all those lichen colours!


Rooihoogte January flowers
Rooihoogte January flowers

For tea we sat in a wide arc, chatting and admiring the view. I looked up to see a Cape baboon sitting on a rock at the far end of our arc. He kept us company for a few minutes, then bounded forward, poised at the top of the slope. With a click click he was gone!


Tea with a Cape baboon
Tea with a Cape baboon

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  1. Every time I think there can't possibly be more flowers I've never seen nor heard of, you come up with dozens - and baboon spiders too! The sandstone rock formations are stunning.

  2. Lovely to see your local flora and fauna. A beautiful area. And what a view. B x

  3. Beautiful, beautiful...I wish I was there, although I'm in wonderful Texas now where it's much warmer than my home state with a blizzard. The Agapanthus are such a beautiful color and form!