South Africa is in the midst of spring, and there is no end to the flowers.1 Every few weeks, there are new arrangements of shape, size and colour at the waysides that come and go in turn.
Some sparkle on shrubs that in every other season give nothing away of their splendour. Some burst from bulbs straight from the ground—just stem, no leaves at all. Some flutter gently amid the grasses—shy, though they need not be so.
Some dazzle with striking colour, insisting one stops and stares. Some are strange, barely recognisable as what they are—for that reason, all the more lovely. Some are so small that on hands and knees one must descend to see them at all.
Were I to catalogue every species I have seen this season, my updates would be frequent and long, but permit me one more occasion to show some of the specimens that now are in bloom:
Or wild animals: late Thursday afternoon, I saw for the first time a pair of Otocyon megalotis, Bat-eared foxes! I regret I was not able to photograph them.
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”.