Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Plants in our Drakensberg Garden

We visited Giants Castle during spring, and that was obvious as the large variety of trees and plants had started to grow leaves and flowers. In our garden we saw plants that resemble those we in Scandinavia grow in pots in our windows. One of the staff at the reception had told us that it had been a cold winter, with snow even in Giants Castle. But now, that seemed far away.

South Africa has more than 20000 plant species, and is one of the countries with the largest biodiversity in the world. As we drove through the country we could see the scenery and vegetation change.

Up in the Drakensberg Mountains we saw plants that seemed to be endemic to the area. In our garden I believe that many had been planted.

I love flowers, and I used time to try to get some shots showing the beauty of the South African spring. The flowers above, grew up from a plant in our garden with thick succulent leaves, well adapted to drought. Many species of these plants are growing in South Africa.

An old Aloe

A plant I did recognize was the local Aloe variety. These plants exists in a large number of subspecies, in many shapes and sizes. The most famous is the Aloe Vera, known for its healing properties.

We saw these plants everywhere, and they grew to be quite large. I believe it may be the Aloe Arborescence that is found in large numbers in South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. This species has medical properties that rival that of the Aloe Vera. It grows to 2-3 metres, and the old leaves make up its trunk.

This was a large specimen, as Aloe Arborescence go, and it grew by our cabin.

A beautiful Tree fern

If you think this is a palm tree, think again and look closer , and you'll find you are mistaken It is not a palm tree, it is a tree fern.

If I had lived somewhere warmer, I would certainly have planted a tree fern. These plants are fascinating, and may go back to a time when the dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Today they are found in many different tropical and subtropical areas. Many are endemic to the Oceania region, and large areas of tall tree ferns are found in e.g. Tasmania and New Zealand.

We had many of these around the cabins, but these were not seen anywhere else in the wild, and I think they may be planted here. But there are, according to the Wikipedia, thousands of varieties, so it may be endemic to the Drakensberg Mountains.

The red brush flower

This is my name, and I did write the name down somewhere, but I seemed to have lost the note.

This is a plant endemic to the area, and I have seen it before. A similar tree with a darker red flower were growing outside my cousins condominium in Sebastian Lake in Florida, when I visited her in 1989.

Now it was in full bloom, and isn't it spectacular!!

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