A delightful fact I neglect to mention is that my beloved Gladiolus liliaceus, commonly known as the Large Brown Afrikaner and Aandpypie1 (“little evening pipe”2), has yet another common Afrikaans name: the Ribbokblom3, that is, the “rhebok flower”!
Whence the name, I can only speculate—perhaps because the rhebok itself is as rare, or that both are found on hillsides and are brownish-grey? Nonetheless, what are the odds that two of my favourite things—an antelope and a lily—should be thus connected!
After the flower that opens at night.
[Ribbok-blom] with a trilled “R” and a short [awh] version of the “o” in “or”.
I encountered one of the first Large Brown Afrikaner lilies (Gladiolus liliaceus) of spring this morning. It stood on the same wayside where I saw another (of the cream-coloured variety), last October. Once home, I invited my mother to return to the flower to admire it. Upon her suggestion, we strolled further up the dirt road and what should we see but another of the same flower, precariously blooming on the verge!
(If you listen carefully at the 15 seconds mark, you can hear one of the Clapper Lark species, Mirafra apiata marjoriae, flap its wings and whistle in the distance.)
We then crossed the road, and there in the field, were more lilies scattered amongst the bushes! These I did not photograph; they were at some distance, and I did not have the right lens (it never occurred to me to use the iPhone). My mother told me how, when she was a child, on the first school day of spring, they had to bring a wildflower to class. She would come to that very field to pick a lily, three kilometres from her home!
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”.