On Thursday, I passed through the Houwhoek Mountains and flashes of red amidst the autumnal greens caught my eye. I ascended a precipitous hill—camera in hand—to investigate and was rewarded by my first ever sighting of what I believe to be Tritoniopsis triticea. It is known in Afrikaans as the Rooibergpypie1 (“red little pipe”) and is related to Tritoniopsis antholyza, an equally fiery-flowered plant that adorned the Perdeberg2 (“horse mountain”) slopes I visited in early summer3, 2018.
In fact, when I saw the red flowers scattered upon the Houwhoek Mountain slopes on Thursday, I instantly thought of Tritoniopsis antholyza. Both flower between January (mid-summer) and April (mid-autumn)—though Tritoniopsis antholyza starts two months before in November—and so I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was a new species (to me) in the same family. Tritoniopsis triticea is more delicate4 and taller but no less beautiful. I hope to see more in the weeks to come!
- Pronounced “Roowuhoyee-behRCH-pey-pih”, with a trilled “R”, “CH” the guttural “kccch” sound in “loch” (not the “ck” in “lock”) and the “ih” in “did”.
- Afrikaans for “horse mountain”, pronounced “pehR-dh-behRCH”, with a trilled “R” and “CH” the guttural “kccch” sound in “loch” (not the “ck” in “lock”). Incidentally, the “Houwhoek” in Houwhoek Mountains is to the best of my knowledge a combination of the surname Houw and hoek, the Afrikaans word for “corner”.
- It is summer in South Africa from December to February. I wrote about Tritoniopsis antholyza on my blog in “This December” (part of a year-long series of monthly digests in 2018).
- It had rained earlier, hence their slightly dishevelled appearance.