Wild Pear

Dombeya rotundifolia in full bloom is sight not to be missed during August and September on the hillsides of Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve in Howick. This small tree with dark brown, craggy bark and a rounded crown is literally covered in white blossom, which is particularly striking as the tree is usually leafless at this…

African Almond

Prunus africana Common names: Red Stickwood, African Almond, Afrikaans: rooistinkhout; Zulu: Inyazangoma-elimnyama, umdumezulu; Xhosa: uMkakase Just when most exotic trees around us have lost all their leaves, the Prunus Africana sprouts a whole lot of shiny, new ones.  They are particularly spectacular as the rising sun catches their under sides and turns the tree in to…

Traveller’s Joy

Clematis brachiata Common Name: Traveller’s Joy; Xhosa name: ityolo; Zulu Name: ihlonzo leziduli; Sotho Name: morarana-oa-mafehlo; Afrikaans name: Lemoenbloeisels Driving along Midlands roads besides forest or grassland, this scrambler can be seen spilling out of trees and climbing over rocks, during Autumn.  The twining stems can climb up to 5m through the trees and bear…

Falling Stars

Orange and scarlet Crocosmia are at their best in Autumn.  Crocosmia belong to the iris family. It is cosmopolitan family, consisting of approximately 82 genera and 1 700 species. Thirty-eight genera and over half the species occur in South Africa. They are very easy to grow and, ideally, should be left undisturbed to multiply on…

Purple Broom

Polygala virgata Common Name: Purple broom; Afrikaans Name: Bloukappies; Zulu Names: ithethe, unohlonishwayo obomvu; Sotho Names: hlokoa-le-lelie, ntsebele-ea-moru One of the lazy pleasures of a hot summer’s day is watching fat carpenter bees buzzing nectar from the plump purple flowers of Polygala virgata. This shrub is the spindly relation of the very popular small tree…

Ouhout

Leucosidea serica Common Name: Ouhout; Zulu: umtshitshi; Sotho: cheche Before the grasslands midlands were settled by Europeans, there were few trees besides those clustered in damp or rocky places.  One of the original Midlands trees was Leucosidea serica. A real pioneer and found is a variety of places – grassand, forest edges, stream banks and…

Buddleja

Honey fragrance fills the mid-winter air as all the Buddlejas come into flower, lifting your spirits on the chilliest of days. Buddleja salviifolia is a semi-evergreen shrub with dark green wrinkled leaves which are whitish underneath. This versatile and frost hardy shrub is common all over South Africa, reaching 4 m high in good conditions. Buddleja occurs…

Bush Violet

Barleria obtusa This pretty perennial shrub flowers profusely at this time of year, adding contrasting blues to all the oranges and yellows of autumn. Known in isiZulu as idololenkonyane an in Afrikaans as Bosviooltjie. Naturally, it tends to scramble through other shrubs but can be cut to form a rounded bush or even clipped as a low hedge….

Plectranthus

Spur Flower Midlands gardens and forest edges are a purple froth at the moment with the entire Plectranthus  family in full bloom. These gorgeous shrubs are an absolute riot in shady areas and range from ground covers to over 2m high. The most common and really easy to grow Plectranthus varieties are P.ecklonii and P. fructicosus– the colours…

Sivery Sopubia

Sopubia cana The silvery leaves of Sopubia are very pretty in against the bronze of summer grasslands.   It is parasitic on grasses, has a woody rootstock and is widespread in the eastern grasslands of Southern Africa and into tropical Africa.  The small shrub reaches about 45cm high.  The narrow leaves are velvety in texture…

Traveller’s Joy

Clematis brachiata Common Name: Traveller’s Joy; Xhosa name: ityolo; Zulu Name: ihlonzo leziduli; Sotho Name: morarana-oa-mafehlo; Afrikaans name: Lemoenbloeisels Driving along Midlands roads besides forest or grassland, this scrambler can be seen spilling out of trees and climbing over rocks, during Autumn.  The twining stems can climb up to 5m through the trees and bear…

Granny Bonnets

Disperis fanniniae Naturally found amongst leaf litter on Midlands forest floors in late summer, this pretty member of the orchid family also appears quite at home in the under storey of wattle or pine woodlots. Flowers are borne on stems of up to 40cm tall, sometimes singly or in clusters of up to eight.  Petals…