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Category: Flower of the month

Each month will see the addition of a new flower or plant that visitors to the Mountain Kingdom will come across during their travels.

Fire heath (Erica cerinthoides)

Fire heath (Erica cerinthoides)

Fire heath or Rooihartjie
Erica cerinthoides - Photo by Marie Viljoen

Introduction:

An indigenous garden is simply not complete without this little redhead (Morita-nkoe (Sesotho) or Rooihartjie (Afrikaans)) will light one corner in your garden.  This plant does well in our cool grassland vegetation of Lesotho although care must be taken if planted in the garden as it is naturally growing on rocky sand stone cliffs.

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Saniella verna

Saniella verna

Name: Saniella – It is said to be named after the World Heritage site of Sani Pass  situated in the Mokhotlong District of South Eastern Lesotho highlands.

Introduction:

The wetlands of the mountains of Lesotho are unique and has been suggested that they represent type of wetlands related to those of Europe and North America. They are freshwater wetlands. This is where you find a mosaic of species ranging from red, white,  pink,  yellow,  blue, maroon and etc.  When almost all the species have finished flowering, the little white and yellow throated beauties will always be found as the last offer for a flower hunter to enjoy.

Description:

It is a dwarf, white and yellow throated flower with deeply dissected petals .

Distribution and habitat:

It is mostly found at an altitude of approximately 3000 meters above sea level, specifically in the head water wetlands of Lesotho main river’s sources (Bokong, Malibamatso, Matsoku) in the North East of Lesotho which contribute into the massive must-see Lesotho Highlands Water Project, Katse dam.

Night Phlox – Zaluzianskya Rubrostellata

Night Phlox – Zaluzianskya Rubrostellata

Family: Scrophulariaceae – Snapdragon family

Zaluzianskya – this herb is named after the botanist called Adam Zalusiansky von Zaluzian.

Rubrostellata rubro meaning red and stellata meaning star.

Zaluzianskya rubrostellata
Photo: Jenny Wainwright-Klein

Description:

It is an annual plant that grows in herbaceous form. It’s growing in high altitude basaltic soils. It has conspicuous hairs on the stems. Interestingly the flowers are bright yellow, inside and chocolate brown underneath, it is painted star red in the mouth.

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Sehlabathebe lily (Aponogeton Ranunculiflorus)

Sehlabathebe lily (Aponogeton Ranunculiflorus)

This unusual species was first described in 1972. It is a small aquatic located first from high altitude rock pools in Sehlabathebe National Park, in what was thought to be only a 3 hectare area. Since then discoveries have been made on the South African side where conditions exactly match the approximate altitude (2600m) and within a 10km radius.

 

Aponogeton-Ranunculiflorus
Aponogeton Ranunculiflorus (Apologies for the poor image quality)

Description:

Flowering in January, the flowers are borne on long slender strings, they are pure white little cups floating on the surface of water.

Distribution and habitat:

Sehlabathebe rock pool
Photo by: Mark Van Der Wal

In Lesotho it is confined in the sandstone rock pools at an altitude range of 2400 – 3300 Meters above Sea Level. It is easily identified on the surface of the pools. It belongs to group of aquatic plants with special needs for propagation. It requires shallow water in the beginning of season and becomes deeper as the rainy season progresses and becomes shallower again as the dry season approaches.

In nature these kinds of plants grow in tarn that allows for seasonal drying, resulting in the seeds being able to settle at the bottom of pond and germinate when the time / conditions are ideal.

Conservation status:

It is classified as a Critically Endangered plant species by the Southern African Red Data Lists. The Removal of plants and seeds for the National Park is highly prohibited.

Spiral Aloe (Aloe Polyphylla)

Spiral Aloe (Aloe Polyphylla)

Aloe polyphylla (Kharetsa – SS, Spiral aloe – English, Kroonaalwyn – Afrikaans meaning “crown aloe”)

Introduction:

The Spiral Aloe is a rare and beautiful aloe found in the Maluti Mountains. Very characteristic is the unique spiral arrangement of the leaves. It was discovered by Mr. F.H. Holland in 1915 at Phurumela Mountains of Lesotho, and then Dr. Schonland of Albany museum in Grahamstown described it but not published until 1934.  It was then described officially by Mr. N. S. Pillans in South African Gardening and Country Life using Dr. Schonland notes. (Sean Gildenhuys).Spiral Aloe leaves

 

 

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Blue Scilla (Scilla Natalensis)

Blue Scilla (Scilla Natalensis)

Kherere (Sotho);  Inguduza (Zulu); Blouslangkop (Afrikaans); Blue-squill / Blue Scilla of Africa (English)

Scilla Natalensis flowers
Scilla Natalensis flowers (Photo: Wikipedia)

Description:

Hyacinthaceae – family

Scilla natalensis is a graceful perennial bulb. The leaves are broad and sharply tapering, narrowing at its apex and grey green in color.  The flower growths are borne on long slender stalks of about one meter high and bright blue color. In general it produces a large bulb, 10 to 15 cm in diameter, covered with firm, hardened, papery brown or purplish tunics (bulb scales). It is deciduous, growing during summer and dormant in the winter.

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Tyson’s euryops (Euryops tysonii)

Tyson’s euryops (Euryops tysonii)

Tyson’s euryops (Eng.) Sehloakoana se senyenyane (Southern Sesotho)

Euryops tysonii
Euryops tysonii - Photo by James Gaither

Introduction:
A lovely shrub for the garden Euryops tysonii (it was named after William Tyson) – Sehlakoana se senyenyane (Sesotho name) with showy yellow flowers all summer and an interesting upright habit. Euryops derived from the Greek word, eurys, meaning large or wide, and ops, meaning eye or face (referring to showy flower heads).

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